‘BOYS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH ME’ was the simple phrase that got a 17-year-old girl sent home from school and threatened with expulsion. The reasoning? The principal felt like the phrase was sexist and could be classified as harassment.
If you’re scratching your head because you too are perplexed about this logic, know that half of the Internet feels the same way. When the girl’s unnamed mother took to Reddit with her story, people were blown away by the school’s reaction.
To understand the story completely, we must first start with the backstory. The mother described her daughter’s difficulty with the school year as,
“My 17-year-old daughter was a late bloomer, but she ‘developed’ a lot over the summer. Since returning to school, she has been groped multiple times by her male classmates. She reported this to the principal and after ‘conducting an investigation’ he told her that the boys were just joking around and teasing her and she shouldn’t take it so seriously.”
It’s no wonder that the young girl felt like she should take matters into her own hands considering the principal’s lack of understanding. According to the mother, the principal even went so far as to say that the girl simply wasn’t making it clear enough that she didn’t want the boys touching her. In response, the teen wrote the clear message across her white t-shirt.
When the girl was sent home for inappropriate clothing, the mother met with the principal yet again. At that time, he informed her that the phrase implied that “all men are animals” and that the school was considering expelling the female student for harassment. If that sounds like quite a leap, many people who commented on the thread believed so, too.
One commenter said,
“So first the principal says your daughter isn’t making it clear enough that she doesn’t want this attention, and then he punishes her for making it crystal clear that she doesn’t want this attention. Get an attorney to deal with the school – they’re drooling right now and don’t even know why. And file a police report for the groping.”
Others pointed out the fact that the principal is in violation of the law because he is a mandated reporter and failed to report the groping to proper authorities. As another commenter put it,
“The people telling you that the principal’s mandated reporter obligation was triggered are correct. If other students were grabbing your daughter in intimate areas either above or below the waist, then Wisconsin defines that as sexual contact. If she is 17, and it was non-consensual, then it triggers mandated reporter rules in Wisconsin, even if was another student. Failure to report in Wisconsin can result in up to six months in jail and a revocation of the principal’s license. In other words, in addition to whatever hot mess these kids are in, the principal has committed a misdemeanor and the kind of mistake that can get him blacklisted.”
The story certainly got people talking. So much, in fact, the mother chose to remove the original post because it was leading to unwanted local attention.
As the #MeToo movement picks up more and more steam, stories like this are no longer being swept under the rug. It’s important that we talk about this and keep talking about it until the typical response is to do something every single time someone reports harassment. Because the principal is right about one thing, she shouldn’t have written that on her t-shirt–because we should live in a world where she doesn’t have to.
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