A high school senior has written a petition protesting her school's new ban on physical contact beween students. She writes: "I am insulted by the presumption that I'm too immature to decide which kind of touches are appropriate for school."
The anonymous student submitted her petition to the Free Range Kids blog and plans to circulate it after midterms. She says that while she understands the rule was implemented to "thin out the kissing couples who clog up the halls," reprimanding students for putting an arm around a friend's shoulder takes things too far. She does a great job of laying out her argument:
We, the undersigned, call for removal of or significant amendments to the new "No Touching" policy at our high school. The case for our request rests on several points:
- Interpersonal touch is not inherently sexual, and to treat it as such is to make it so. Touch can be a powerful bonding mechanism between friends, and any rule that fails to differentiate between acts of sex and acts of friendship seems arbitrary and inherently draconian.
- High school students will soon be turned loose and made responsible for their own decisions. Is it not the responsibility of educators to impart valuable life skills and ready us for autonomy? Outright bans are not the way to do so. Rather than be taught to see interpersonal touch as inherently bad, we should learn the nuances of what is and is not appropriate for public venues. Don't force us to look at the world in black and white. Show us the shades of gray.
- Imposing limits on interpersonal relationships merely divides "school" and "life" into separate and often warring factions. This further alienates many teens who already fail to find much real-world meaning in school. School should be a holistic place in which social as well as academic needs are met. If we're expected to integrate education into our lives, we should be allowed to bring our lives into our place of education.
- According to the World Book encyclopedia, "[m]ost teenagers mature psychologically at the rate set by their society. As a result, psychological adolescence normally lasts at least as long as the period of legal dependence." In other words, micromanaging merely infantilizes us. Trust us to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate touches, and we won't let you down.
Hopefully this will convince the administrators that high school students are smart and mature enough to understand a simple "no making out in the hallways" policy. If they need help with the wording, it looks like they have one student who can help.