A parent wants to outlaw a sexually loaded dance move at school dances, saying that principals haven’t done enough to stop the activity. At least one school board member agrees, calling the activity sexual harassment.
The parent, who wished to remain nameless for fear of backlash against his child, told the Anne Arundel County Board of Education on Wednesday that grinding has become a “countywide crisis of misconduct.” He claimed to represent other parents who want stricter guidelines for what happens on the dance floor.
“The problem is that a form of dancing, commonly called grinding, openly occurs at dances with little effort to effectively stop it,” he said. “This naturally leads to more egregious sexual behavior within a close-quartered mosh pit, which can number 100 or more students.”
He described graphic scenarios based on what he has heard happen at these dances, including seeing underwear around female students’ ankles. Some of these descriptions caused a stir among board members. The student board member stared wide-eyed as the parent continued in elaborate detail.
Instead of enforcing the student handbook, he believes administrators have essentially condoned grinding at these dances. He called for an addition to the handbook that would specifically outlaw the act, and also rethink how the dances are managed. However, he stopped short of saying that the dances should be canceled outright.
“Parents are furious, and their numbers are growing daily. They have lost respect for the school system and administrators for allowing grinding at dances,” he said.
But some defensive measures have been taken to keep the dance floors clean. Before buying tickets to homecoming this year, students reportedly were required to sign a dance contract agreeing that they will not participate in certain activities.
"Sexually explicit dancing will not be tolerated," the contract reads, before specifically outlawing grinding, freaking, making out, and other actions.
The parent said a paper contract clearly wasn't enough to stop some students from doing it anyway.
Board member Eugene Peterson was the first to respond, saying a presentation like this was long overdue.
“We know this is an issue. It’s been an issue since my daughter was in high school, and she’s been teaching for four years now,” Peterson said.
He asked the superintendent to review the parent’s recommendations and also get a “reality check” on how extensive the sexually loaded dancing has become.
Peterson asked for a report on what could be done to curb the problem, short of canceling school dances.
“Which could be an option, if this regrettable activity continues,” Peterson warned. “Make no mistake about it—this is sexual harassment, plain and simple, whether it’s consensual or not.”
Board member Solon Webb said in his experience chaperoning at school dances, he’s noticed that parents are severely outnumbered by students. He asked for any available parent to help with chaperoning future dances.
“There definitely is not a good ratio of parent supervision to students at any of these events,” he said.
Deputy Superintendent Arlen Liverman disputed that teachers and staff were standing idly by while grinding occurred.
“Our principals are, in fact, addressing these issues as aggressively as they can,” Liverman said.
However, he admitted that there is some room for improvement, and said staff would be looking into it.
Another high school parent, who also asked that her name be withheld, told Patch she chaperoned a homecoming dance and was shocked by the behavior of students that was "rampant, overtly sexual and embarrassing to watch."
"I wish there was another option for boys and girls wanting to dance together," she added. "It's like skipping the romance and going straight to the bedroom."
Editor's note: This article has been updated from a previous version to reflect that there is a student board member.