A few weeks ago, a 13-year-old girl was sentenced to two days of detention. Not for violent behavior, stealing or cheating, but for ... hugging two friends while going home from school. A few days later, in another city, two teenagers were expelled from school. Not for punching a teacher or destroying school property or starting a fight. No, they were expelled for ... kissing each other in a school bus! Sounds like another sad example of brutal repression by some fanatic religious police in some retarded Middle-Eastern theocracy? Not exactly. Embarrassingly, these events took place in a country that supposedly values freedom and human rights, the United States of America. But the most bizarre is that the sentences were not overturned and the school officials who gave the sentences were not fired and are still holding their jobs.
As strange as it seems (apparently not to the American public, but certainly to most people in other countries), it appears that many schools in the US really have rules banning public displays of affection or even any kind of physical contact between students in some cases. The student handbook of Mascoutah Middle School (Illinois), in which the hugging incident took place, actually says: “Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved.”
One might wonder why should someone's taste have anything to do with the rules governing students' behaviors in schools. Even if that person's taste reflected the taste of a majority of people in the area, why would it make it more legitimate? A basic principle in civilized societies is that personal tastes can not be forced onto other people, no matter what percentage of the population happens to share them. What need to be enforced are human rights. Therefore, school officials need to make sure students are protected from harassment, bullying, or any form of violence. But prohibiting behaviors promoting or displaying love, friendship and joy under the pretense that it offends some people's taste is not only ridiculous, it is a total disrespect for human rights. In addition, are these people’s tastes their own taste or the one imposed on them by their educators, especially their religious educators?