A few days ago, I wrote about Natalie Richard, a Utah mother of a sixth grader who was upset that her daughter was told she couldn't say "no" if a boy asked her to dance at an upcoming school Valentine's Day party. Richard took exception to the school's requirement that students accept dance requests from other students.
I'm happy to report that the school district where Natalie Richard's daughter attends sixth grade has since changed its policy. Students have now been given the right to reject prospective dance partners. Although I understood the school's policy as intended to promote kindness and inclusiveness, I think it's very important to teach students the value of the word "no". Certainly, they should be encouraged to always be kind whenever possible. But they should also have the power to protect themselves.
"No" is a protective word.
I think it's much more important to teach children about their right to "bodily autonomy" than niceness. Moreover, niceness is best when it's sincere.
We live in an era where women are just now going public about sexual harassment. It sends a mixed message to young people when we embrace concepts like #metoo, but we don't allow them to turn down dance requests at a school event.
I'm glad the school officials in the Weber School District have come to their senses. Kindness is important, but so is the right of young people to say "no".