When girls are old enough to attend their first school dance, it’s such a fun and exhilarating experience for them. Leading up to the big day, they talk with their friends about their gorgeous dresses, hairstyles, nail polish colors, and of course, who they’re hoping to dance with.
Unfortunately, Rich Middle School in Laketown, Utah, is turning what would be a girl’s enchanted evening into an absolute nightmare.
The “Yes Only” Policy
Basically, Rich Middle School has a policy at school dances that forces young girls (and boys) to only say “Yes” when they are asked to dance. The boys and girls take turns asking each other to dance as each new song plays. This “Yes Only” policy means that even if a young girl wishes to decline a boy’s offer to dance with him, she is not allowed to do so. She must say yes. As you can imagine, this puts young girls in a horrible situation, which is exactly what happened to 11-year old Azlyn Hobson at Rich Middle School’s Valentine’s Day dance.
This “Yes Only” policy means that even if a young girl wishes to decline a boy’s offer to dance with him, she is not allowed to do so.
Azlyn was looking forward to dancing with her crush at the dance, which she did, but she was also asked to dance by a boy who makes her feel uncomfortable. According to Azlyn’s mother, the boy had been quoted saying something disturbing of a sexual nature. After Azlyn politely declined, the school principal Kip Motta stepped in. Principal Motta told Azlyn that she is not allowed to say “No” to anyone who asks her to dance and that she must dance with the boy. Azlyn told her mother that she hated every minute of the dance and was so relieved when it was finally over.
What This Policy Teaches Girls
If what Azlyn told her mother angers you, you’re not alone. It absolutely sickens me to make this observation, but what Azlyn described is what many women and girls have said what being sexually assaulted is like. In no way am I saying being forced to dance with a boy is the same as being assaulted, but what this school’s policy is teaching young girls and boys is extremely disturbing.
Girls are being taught that they do not have the right to say “No” when they want to.
The “Yes Only” policy is teaching girls that their thoughts and feelings do not matter. Neither does their comfort or sense of safety. In order to not hurt a boy’s feelings, girls are forced to never reject a boy who asks them to dance, even if every ounce of them is holding up a red flag. Girls are being taught that they do not have the right to say “No” when they want to. Azlyn’s mother said it best in her Facebook post: “I’m not going to quietly stand by while my daughter and all of her classmates are being wrapped up in rape culture.”
The Principal’s Defense
Principal Motta defended the school’s “Yes Only” policy in The Salt Lake Tribune, stating that the policy was put in place in order to include all students and to ensure nobody feels left out. This “Yes Only” policy allows kids to be more outgoing and ask people to dance that they normally wouldn’t. When rejection is taken out of the equation, kids can relax when asking someone to dance, because they know they are entitled to a “Yes.” It’s the rule.
The policy was put in place in order to include all students and to ensure nobody feels left out.
While Principal Motta’s intentions are good, and I’m all for inclusiveness, I don’t believe this is the place or the way. The principal is trying to solve one problem, but creating another very serious problem in the process.
Absolutely nothing good is coming out of this school dance policy. Not only is it unintentionally normalizing rape culture for our youth, but it’s also not preparing them for life in general. Yes, rejection sucks, but it’s a part of life that everyone goes through at some point in their lives. Instead of intentionally creating situations that prevent kids from being rejected, we should be teaching kids how to handle rejection in a healthy way. By never letting our kids experience the tough times, they will never learn how to deal with their negative emotions. People like Principal Motta may think they are doing these kids a favor, but what they’re really doing is preventing them from experiencing real life.