Marybeth: Teens protest for their right to dance dirty
It’s more than just election season. It’s not just autumn. It’s not only the countdown to Halloween (and by Halloween, I mean Christmas).
But if you don’t have a high schooler in your home, you may not realize that it’s also a very special time of year in the academic and social calendar: Homecoming season, the magical time when leaves turn golden, football is in the air, and teen girls inexplicably believe that a new top from Abercrombie will morph them into Tyra from Friday Night Lights.
Homecoming is making headlines all over America, but unfortunately, the news is disconcerting. To wit:
On Saturday, administrators at Middleton High School in Middletown, RI, pulled the plug on the homecoming dance, sending students home at 9:25 pm rather than 11:00, because they staged a protest over the school’s enforcement of its “no grinding” dance policy.
Yep, you read that right. Students protested that school officials would not let them engage in simulated sexual acts on the dance floor. The policy, “Face to face with a little space,” had been well-publicized in the days leading up to the dance and had even been communicated to parents via a mass text.
Unfortunately, rather than comply with the policy and have fun within the behavioral standards set forth in advance, the students staged a profanity-laced sit-in, culminating in a police-supervised exit from the school gym.
Parents applauded the school’s enforcement of appropriate moral standards and the exercise of strong administrative authority.
Parents were upset! Many told media outlets that the kids were unsafely let out onto the streets of Middletown, and the school “didn’t even provide transportation home.”
In the aftermath of the homecoming controversy, Middletown’s superintendent of schools released this statement:
The Middletown High School Homecoming dance was shortened because of unsafe behavior by students who did not agree with the no-grinding rule as outlined in the Middletown High School handbook.
The decision was made out of an abundance of caution and after several warnings were given to the students. A connected message was sent out informing parents that the dance was canceled.
The students driving were not permitted to leave the premises until the communication to parents was released. There was a police cruiser and police outside helping with students who were exiting the building and in the parking lot.
Students who needed rides called parents and waited inside the gym lobby or inside the gym. The administration and chaperones remained inside the building with students who were waiting for rides.
If students behaved in an unsafe way outside, the police were there to handle the situation. There was no near riot as reported. Student safety was at the forefront when the dance was terminated early. The students were addressed and were asked to cooperate with the no grinding rule.
Any student who purchased a ticket was aware of the no grinding rule for the dance. It was restated during lunches throughout the week, along with an explanation of how the breathalyzer was going to be administered.
There was also a Connect Ed message that was sent to parents the day of the dance regarding the no grinding rule and the dress code.
There’s no wondering where in the world kids learn “grinding” as a dance move – just surf through MTV, BET, VH1 or YouTube to see the soft-core pornography that passes for choreography today. It’s enough to make Elvis’ pelvis look like a Richard Simmons “Sweatin to the Oldies” routine.
And while it’s true that teens of every generation will push the envelope of propriety to assert their independence, I believe we’re seeing something different here. What we’re seeing, sadly, is a generation that believes there are no rules, or if there are, that the rules don’t apply to them.
For years, I’ve been writing and speaking about the potential impact of our amoral culture on the minds, hearts, souls, and consciences of our children.
We know that exposure to American media – defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the most sexualized media in the Western hemisphere – molds the attitudes and behaviors of young people with regard to sex and sexuality. When it comes to information about sex, media is now defined as a “super peer” – a bigger influence than friends, teachers, church leaders, and often, bigger even than parents.
We also know that teens demonstrate diminishing respect for authority figures, a reflection of the breakdown in parental authority in the home.
This episode in Middletown is both shocking and disturbing because it weaves these realities together in one astounding story. First, the teens are fighting for their “right” to engage in sexually explicit actions at a high school dance on public school property. And they flagrantly disobeyed school administrators, choosing to take a stand for lewd dancing rather than simply dance in a wholesome and appropriate fashion and have some homecoming fun.
Kudos to the administrators for following through on their promise to put the hammer down on inappropriate and dangerous behavior. And shame on the parents who don’t stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
A teachable moment…
If you have middle or high school students at home, this story offers a great opportunity to talk about how to socialize appropriately and respectfully at school dances. Check out a story from last fall that offers some great points for discussion.