Valencia College in Orlando, Florida is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by two students in the school’s medical diagnostics program. They allege that they were forced to undergo transvaginal probing during class and that faculty supervising made inappropriate comments during the exams creating a frightening and hostile environment.
The two students who filed the suit are also alleging that while weekly vaginal probes during class were technically voluntary, faculty retaliated against students who didn’t want to participate by threatening to lower grades or “blacklist them” from future employment. And while practicing on each other in such classes isn’t rare, recent research suggests that there aren’t enough policies in place to protect students from discomfort and embarrassment.
The suit also describes weekly probes for students in the program, saying they, “endured these invasive probes without a modicum of privacy. Plaintiffs would disrobe in a restroom, drape themselves in towels, and traverse the sonography classroom in full view of instructors and other students.”
“A student would place a condom over the probe and then apply generous amounts of lubrication to the probe. In some cases, the student would have to sexually ‘stimulate’ plaintiffs in order to facilitate inserting the probe into plaintiffs’ vaginas,” the lawsuit alleges.
And then there’s Barbara Ball, the faculty member who allegedly made incredibly unprofessional and sexually harassing comments as she supervised the procedure:
“She allegedly approached one student ... during a probing session and stated (she) was ‘sexy’ and should be an ‘escort girl’ (prostitute).” The suit says Ball’s behavior casts serious doubts upon her motivation for insisting upon the forced vaginal probing sessions.
The school has not commented on the lawsuit but has stated that peer examinations in medical diagnostics classes, including sonography, are commonplace in the United States. The school has promised to investigate.
The students are hoping that the practice will be banished in the classroom. Experts that a local news station spoke (in the video above) said the exams are usually done in seminars and not in a classroom environment.
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