Feb 132018

Would you believe that at a recent elementary school dance at Kanesville Elementary School in Weber County, Utah, attendees were required to accept invitations to dance? This supposedly “(promotes) kindness.”

And it’s even a little more bizarre than that. Ahead of time, each attendee makes a list of five other attendees with whom s/he agrees to dance. Oh, but no worries! If there’s any discomfort with such a list, “that’s certainly something that can be addressed with that student and parents.”

Well, thank God for that. I’d hate for it to get weird.

Folks, this is asinine. We can guide our young people, instructing them to be polite with one another, consider each other’s emotions, and so forth. But they still have to—need to—figure out how to navigate these little rituals and customs themselves. And the bottom line is little boys are going to hurt little girls’ feelings, and little girls are going to hurt little boys’ feelings. Guess what? That’s OK. Learning to handle rejection is part of the deal.

Moreover, do we really want to tell a girl that she can’t say no to a boy asking her to dance? That she may not refuse a request to be closer to her?

That she filled out a card, so she better follow through now?

Do I really need to go into what a rotten idea this is?

We can and should teach empathy. We might even give examples while doing so. But attempting to issue highly specific directives for a real-life event does nothing to promote genuine understanding, particularly when the messages are this muddled.

(Because we also can and should teach respect for boundaries.)

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