September 3, 2014
Twerking Students Prompt Fed-Up Principal To Cancel Homecoming Dance

One fed-up school principal canceled the high school homecoming dance in Vermont. Why? She believes "twerking" is hazardous to one's image -- and Miley Cyrus is to blame.

Mount Anthony Union School (MAUHS) principal, Sue Maguire, put her foot down after her student body began emulating twerking to their heart's content.

She reasoned that the form of dance, popularized by Miley Cyrus in her videos and at the 2013 VMAs with Robin Thicke, amounts to women being victims of misogny. In a nut's shell, Principal Maguire thinks the cult dance moves are "highly-sexualized." As a consequence, she nixed the homecoming dance to prevent inappropriate gyrating and to send her students a strong message with decency at its core.

When the Bennington community got word of the unprecedented move, a mild backlash ensued, mostly from students and those that missed the larger message altogether.

In a letter to the Bennington Banner, the local newspaper there, the school principal outlined her reasoning for canceling this fall's homecoming and other scheduled dances. Moreover, she said the moratorium will be in effect until students ceased and desisted from twerking and found more socially-accepted forms of expression on the dance floor.

"We have received questions regarding why we have canceled the upcoming Homecoming dance and wanted to provide clarification so there isn't misinformation in our community.

Over the past couple of years, since Miley Cyrus took the stage "twerking" at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, our students' dancing behavior has crossed the line of what we can condone as appropriate behavior at a school. Twerking is dancing to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving a low squatting stance and thrusting movements. Students do not face one another or remain with the same person for the length of the song.

If you haven't seen twerking, I would encourage you to research this online.

As a school we are responsible to keep students safe and teach them how to interact with others appropriately. One of the issues that emerges with this highly sexualized form of dancing is consent.

Before closing the letter, the principal offered some consolation for canceling the homecoming dance over twerking fears."

Twerking at a MAUHS homecoming dance -- and any place, for that matter -- is not ladylike and tends to create environments rife for sexual activity to occur. And when young people are participating in moves that suggest same, it sends out the wrong message. Certainly, it has no place in learning institutions, no, not even for P.E.

The challenge is to find a delicate balance that allows individuals certain liberties, while not creating unintended circumstances. Additionally, a fine medium must be created that determines who sets the change in motion. To the Vermont school principal -- clearly among the anti-twerking establishment, it begins with her.

In closing her letter to the public, she offered a glimmer of hope for her school's future, sans twerking.

"As we have researched this issue, we have learned that communities across the nation are struggling to find the balance between free expression and appropriate school behavior at dances. In speaking with other school administrators, they have informed us that dances have been canceled in other high schools in our state and in nearby Massachusetts and New York.

Everything else planned for homecoming is continuing. We plan on having spirit week, the pep rally, and of course, the homecoming game.

Although this has been a disappointing decision for many of our students, we're seizing this opportunity to engage in thoughtful problem-solving conversations with them in hopes of having dances in the future."

Truth be told, the principal, while having her heart in the right place, faces a tall order in trying to police cultural norms, fads, trends, dialect and forms of expression. So far, the movement to outlaw sagging pants and nixing Ebonics is a failed experiment.

Arguably, there are some that believe twerking and shaking one's moneymaker in schoolsettings crosses lines of decency. On the contrary, there are those who believe more emphasis should be placed on academics, while using a top-down approach by targeting parents and establishing their partnerships.

At the end of the day, one only has to ask this question about a young pre-teen or teenage girl: is it acceptable for her to drop it like it's hot in front of her father?

Enough said.

[Image via YouTube]