Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Girls in Illinois and Alabama get detentions for hugging friends

In Illinois.....

A 13-year-old junior high school student was given two days of detention after school officials spotted her hugging friends after school last Friday.

Megan Coulter, an eighth-grade student at Mascoutah Middle School, was hugging her friends goodbye after school Friday when vice principal, Randy Blakely, saw her and told her she would receive two after-school detentions.

Blakely had previously warned Coulter that she was in violation of the school's policy on public displays of affection after she was seen hugging a student at a football game.

The school's policy says that “displays of affection should not occur on the campus at any time.”

Coulter's mother, Melissa Coulter, says she has requested to speak with the School Board at its next meeting, and is mystified about the punishment leveled at her daughter.

Mascoutah Superintendent Sam McGowen said today that the district's policy helps prevent misunderstandings and unwelcome expressions of affection.

And more in Alabama...
The debate of public displays of affection in school is hitting home in Alabama. The mother of a student in Autauga County says her daughter was disciplined for simply hugging a friend.

"When I went through school, I hugged my friends," said Lea Muir. Her daughter was given detention Monday at Prattville Junior High School. She called it an overreaction.

"It's a little bit extreme, I think."

But according the Autauga County School System's code of conduct, "inappropriate public displays of affection, including but not limited to embracing and kissing" are not allowed.

And Autauga County isn't the only one. Just last week, a school in Illinois disciplined a student for the very same thing. And a South Dakota student got in trouble for holding hands with a friend.

"It was made to be something ugly and it wasn't," Muir said.

She says the hug wasn't meant to be sexual. She says her daughter was consoling a male friend who recently lost a parent.

"What's it going to come to next?," she asked. "You can't high five or touch anybody? You can't brush by someone in the hallway?"

Muir says her daughter served out her punishment and she doesn't plan to take any legal action. But she encourages the school system to reevaluate its policy.

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