Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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Stealing a kiss has become grand larceny.

Don't kiss the girls


By Suzanne Fields
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Fourth grade was the tough one. The big game on the playground was "Boys Chase Girls." The girls loved it when the cute guys caught them (though they pretended not to). So they chased them back. But when a nerd dared play the game he was dissed in a hurry.
. . . . Such were the early lessons in love in a more innocent time.
. . . . "Boys Chase Girls" is taboo in most schools today. Principals and teachers are terrified of lawyers --and who knows where boys chasing girls might lead? A little boy in hot pursuit might move on to hug or kiss a wee damsel on the cheek or worse, compliment her on the legs she shows off in her miniskirt. (Is there any other reason to wear a miniskirt?) Students who once played school yard games to figure out for themselves the limits of affection are now told to tell the teacher if a guy gets fresh.
. . . . But if the teacher counsels the tattletale she's overreacting and encourages her to handle the boy herself, well, that might be an expensive mistake, particularly if the child claims that she's failing in her studies as a result of the boy's attentions. In fact, the teacher who tells the girl not to make a federal case of it will likely find herself in the middle of a federal case.
. . . . That's the early reading of Davis vs. Monroe County Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court held that a girl who claims that she was sexually harassed by a fifth-grade classmate can proceed with her suit seeking damages from the school district.
. . . . Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote the majority opinion in a bitterly divided 5-4 decision, no doubt objects that this interpretation is too broad. She applies the law narrowly, only to cases in which the school shows "deliberate indifference" to harassment behavior that is "severe, pervasive and objectively offensive." The behavior in Davis vs. Monroe County was certainly that, and the fifth-grade harasser was prosecuted and convicted of sexual battery in juvenile court.
. . . . But narrow definitions of what's offensive in harassment cases have a way of expanding into broad definitions in sexual politics, whether the behavior of tots, teens or tarts. Let's not forget the 6-year-old boy in North Carolina who was temporarily suspended from school for kissing a little girl on the cheek. He missed the class ice-cream party, too.
. . . . Reacting to fears of harassment suits, certain college codes of conduct have become ludicrously prescriptive, requiring clear and explicit questions from boy to girl (or vice versa) before either one can initiate an amorous gesture. Stealing a kiss has become grand larceny. Many elementary schools are now writing similar rules.
. . . . Justice O'Connor says she's not talking about invoking the feds over ordinary teasing and name-calling, only identifying harassment that hurts a child's ability to learn as defined by sex discrimination in Title IX, enacted in 1972. But why must we stop with such harassment? Why not also cover the damage to a lovesick boy or girl inflicted by the slings and arrows of ignominious rejection as the teacher sits silently like a sphinx.
. . . . You could find many girls (and boys) in elementary school, high school and college who find repeated rejection as "severe, pervasive and objectively offensive," no doubt affecting their study habits. Victims of a broken heart suffer a variety of symptoms that impede their ability to learn -- lack of concentration, obsessive thinking of the love object, loss of appetite (and weight) and depression.
. . . . Why not define Title IX to include these problems, too? Then any kid walking around with a long face, who rages at the world and hopes to die rather than live without the one-and-only, could sue in federal court. That's surely what Justice Anthony Kennedy in his dissenting opinion fears. In the rough-and-tumble world of the school yard, he writes, "the majority's limitations on peer sexual harassment cannot hope to contain the flood of liability."
. . . . So why not be honest about it? Rather than hiding behind the ambiguity of harassment, let's expand Title IX to include rejection of affection and let any spurned student forsaken by a sweetie have his or her day in court. After all, there's no greater sex discrimination than unrequited love. You could ask anybody.

Back to Education

Copyright (c) 1999 News World Communications, Inc.
Reprinted with permission from The Washington Times.
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