middle school


girl suspended for highlights in her hair

One of the very first posts I ever wrote for this blog was about dress codes. At the time, in Dress codes at school and at work, I asked people’s opinions about dress codes and was fairly comfortable with my school’s policy. I wrote about it again when a student (and her family) sued her school about Tigger and Winnie the Pooh socks.

Now I am glad that my school isn’t as restrictive as Desert Wind School in Socorro, TX. There, an 8th grader is missing prom and graduation because of highlights in her hair. Not purple highlights. Not 5 foot long extensions. Just highlights. And I think she looks pretty cute!

This is from a TV station in El Paso:

Desert Wind School student Denise Guerrero, 14, knew it was against school policy to highlight her hair and she also knew the consequences: if she didn’t remove the highlights, she would miss out on her prom, class field trip, graduation ceremony and soccer games.

“Because I couldn’t be with my friends. I missed out on a lot of things,” said Guerrero.As KFOX reported, Guerrero was assigned to in-school suspension or SAC a month before the end of the school year because she has blond highlights in her hair. She was also told she couldn’t participate in any school activities.Her parents filed a grievance with the Socorro Independent School District. They disagree with the school’s policy and they state other students and teachers color or highlight their hair at Desert Wind School.

But her family disagrees:

“According to their policy, highlights are a distraction. Why isn’t it a distraction by teachers, only by the students,” said Rafael Magallanes, Guerrero’s stepfather.

The principal responded to the grievance and echoed what district officials had told KFOX before. They say the dress code only applies to students and it is applied equally, fairly and thoroughly for all students.Just one week before the end of year activities at Desert Wind, Guerrero discovered the school would not amend the policy. She was told her hair had to go back to her natural color if she wanted to participate in school events. Guerrero said she stood her ground because she felt the policy is not fair. She knew she would be sacrificing events and memories she will never relive.”Soccer, my favorite sport, which I couldn’t get in because of a policy which couldn’t be changed, that’s what hurt me the most,” said Guerrero.Guerrero’s parents could have continued with the grievance process but this year was Denise’s last. Previous Stories:

Slideshow: Eighth Grader Suspended For Hair Color

But the point is, what’s too much restriction for a public school? Banning profanity is one thing. Banning blond is just stupid.  It could be worse.  She could have hair like THIS:

Dear Mr. Friedberg,

When I was in middle school, I knew three girls who had babies before we graduated. One has had a second baby already. By the time we graduated in 8th grade, many of us were 14 and a few were already 15. Two of the kids I know turned 16 the summer after 8th grade. And a lot of people had been having oral sex. Some had been having intercourse.

Did you read this, which was also in the Huffington Post?

“One in eight youth are sexually experienced, having engaged in intercourse, oral sex or both before the age of 14,” the Journal of Adolescent Health reported in 2006. According to the Project Connect study, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

* “9 percent reported ever having sexual intercourse…and 8 percent ever had oral sex (active or receptive).”

* “Of those who reported intercourse, 36 percent were age 11 or younger at first sex, 27 percent were 12, 28 percent were 13, and 9 percent were 14 or older.”

* “Alarmingly, 43 percent of sexually experienced participants reported multiple sex partners.”

Here in Texas, most of our sex education at school is abstinence-only. They teach us about the existence of condoms and other birth control, but they don’t teach us how to use anything safely or where to get it. I don’t know how much birth control will make kids decide to have sex that didn’t have sex before, but I do know that it will make a lot of kids who are already having sex safer. And it will mean fewer abortions and fewer teen pregnancies and less AIDS and less STD’s. Which is more important?

—-Freckles

Malcolm Friedberg: Sex, Condoms in Schools

Eleven-year-olds shouldn’t be having sex.

A middle school in Maine is handing out condoms
. Middle school children are as young as 11 years old. Is it just me, or is 11 just a tad shy of an appropriate age for intercourse? I don’t think I had even made it to second base by then. In fact, I don’t even think most 11-year-old girls had a second base.

According to an op-ed in the New York Times Republicans in Congress are attempting to add $28M to the State Children’s Health Insurance bill that was vetoed by the president. The money goes specifically to teaching abstinence. The editorial states that studies show that abstinence doesn’t work, and abstinence programs teach false information.

Clearly, if kids are getting bad information, that issue needs to be addressed.

But the fundamental point remains: Isn’t handing out condoms encouraging 11-year-old kids to have sex?

In the Maine article, a supporter of the handing-out-condoms program states that society can’t rely on parents to protect their children. So, does that mean its now the State of Maine’s job to make decisions on the behalf of parents? And, even assuming Maine has the ability to make the “right” decision to protects kids (although I’m unsure how one could determine that), under what rationale is handing out condoms the best decision?

The government should not be the forum for imposing personal values, but aren’t there some lines we don’t want to cross?

Malcolm Friedberg is the author of Why We’ll Win, a set of books that explain the law behind hot-button social issues to laypeople.