English majors needed to help edit Northfield High School’s sexual misconduct policy

Page 27 of the Northfield High School 2008-2009 Student Handbook and Planner has this sentence on sexual misconduct:

Engaging in nonconsensual sexual intercourse or sexual contact or indecent exposure with another person, including international touching of clothing covering a person’s intimate parts, or intentional removal or attempted removal of clothing covering a person’s intimate parts or clothing covering a person’s undergarments, if the action is performed with sexual or aggressive intent, is prohibited.

poemThe “international touching of clothing” is an obvious typo but the rest of it is hard to fathom. Seems like there needs to be some extra commas or semi-colons in there.

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The main problem is that it’s not clear if consensual sex is a matter for discipline or not. I contacted High School Principal Joel Leer today who indicated that engaging in consensual sex at the school is a disciplinary matter.

And he acknowledged that the handbook’s policy on this needs some editing and plans to post the 2009-2010 handbook shortly. Let’s help him out.

Members of POEM, time to step up!

10 thoughts on “English majors needed to help edit Northfield High School’s sexual misconduct policy”

  1. How about:

    “It is prohibited to engage in non-consensual sexual intercourse or sexual contact or indecent exposure with another person.  ‘Sexual contact’ refers to the intentional touching of clothing covering a person’s intimate parts, or the intentional removal or attempted removal of clothing covering a person’s intimate parts or clothing covering a person’s undergarments, if the action is performed with sexual or aggressive intent.  The person who engages in such action will be subject to disciplinary measures.”

    The “if the action is performed with sexual or aggressive intent” seems a little problematic to me, as there are several ways to interpret it.

    Consensual sex doesn’t seem to be indicated anywhere in this paragraph, and for purposes of clarity, I would recommend giving the subject its own paragraph under the heading of “sexual misconduct,” either before or after this one.  Something like, “Similarly, consensual engagement in sexual activity (as defined above) will result in disciplinary action against both parties.”

  2. ‘Sexual contact’ refers to the intentional touching of clothing covering a person’s intimate parts,

    so if I touch a dude’s hat im gonna get in trouble?

  3. I suggest:

    “Nonconsensual sexual intercourse and consensual sexual intercourse are prohibited, as well as any action performed with sexual or aggressive intent. Indecent exposure and sexual contact are prohibited, these include: intentional removal of clothing covering a person’s intimate parts or undergarments, attempted removal of clothing covering a person’s intimate parts or undergarments, and unwanted touching of a person’s body. Explicit or offensive  sexual gestures or sexual threats are also prohibited.”

  4. I’ll stab at this…

    “All non-consensual sexual activity is prohibited.  Such non-consensual activity may include, but is not limited to, the following: 

    • Sexual intercourse
    • Indecent exposure
    • Intentional contact with another person’s intimate parts
    • Attempted or actual removal of clothing that is covering another person’s intimate parts or undergarments

    In addition to school sanctioning for violations, the above behavior typically violates criminal law.  Violators may be charged by outside authorities for behaviors, such as these, that occur in school.”

    Also, there needs to be language about consensual sex.  Clearly, prohibiting non-consensual sex, which is already prohibited by our laws, does not absolve consensual sex within the school environment or at any school-supervised function.  However, it should also be stated in the handbook, if it isn’t already.

    By the way, I dislike the “intimate parts” euphamism.  There are substitutes, but most of them don’t seem much better, so I stuck with the school’s phrasing there.

  5. Let’s say that we have two  male football players and one slaps the other on the ass after a good play…grounds for suspension?

    Or…we have a male football player and a female football player and one slaps the other on the ass after a good play…grounds for suspension?

    Or… we have two gay football players (who are dating) and one slaps the other on the ass after a good play…grounds for suspension?

    Or…we have a male and a female football player (who are dating) and not in the game, standing on the sidelines slapping each other on the ass throughout the 4th quarter…grounds for suspension?

    Or…we have two gay football players (who are dating) alone in the shower room after the game slapping each other on the ass…grounds for suspension?

    It seems to me that a discreet kiss on the cheek between two students who are dating could be grounds for disciplinary action under most of the policies presented so far.

    I suggest this: 

    “School is not the appropriate venue for consensual sexual activity. Students engaging in consensual sexual activity at school will be subject to disciplinary action.” 

    Yup, the language is not specific, nor is the level of disciplinary action. Which to me is just fine.  As Kinsey demonstrated it is nearly impossible to detail every variation of consensual sexual activity.  This policy leaves it to teachers and administrators to decide if a behavior qualifies, and, if so, what level of discipline is appropriate.  It also allows discretion to decide what is sexual and what is merely affectionate.  
     
    I’ll leave it to others (lawyers?) to suggest the language regarding non-consensual sexual activity that may or may not rise to the level of criminal charges. 

  6. Grammar meets sex —  perfect topic for a college town.

    With serious experience in only one of these areas, I’ll limit my remarks.

    • The original sentence “Engaging in [stuff] is prohibited.” is grammatically tortuous — [stuff] stands for about 50 words — and probably DOA in the editorial emergency room.   By the time a genuinely  curious reader slogged through this mess the urge to “engage in” anything alluded to here would probably have dissipated.   Oh, wait — maybe that’s the point.
    • “[I]nternational touching”  gives new meaning to  “hands across the ocean”.
    • Sludgy bureaucratese — with or without typos — usually suggests a policy sparked more by legal caution than by a real effort to inform possible “engage”-ers.
    • If legal caution is the motive, why not go all the way and use  IRS-style phrasing:   “Sexual contact is not prohibited if, but only if, you meet condition II.7.c (complete and attach Form 2789) or you are filing jointly and were not divorced in 2009 … ”
    • If information to kids is the motive, why not keep it simple?    “Don’t do anything, sexual or not, to or with another person who objects.”

     

  7. I like Paul Zorn’s final paragraph.  Succinct.

    Why not just refer to the state statutes that define Criminal Sexual Conduct?  Pretty much every type and degree of unwanted sexual contact is defined there as criminal (MS 609.341 through MS 609.345).

  8. Jim, the other problem, tho, is how to get the something about “consensual sex on school property during school hours” in there since that’s evidently a no-no and subject to school discipline.

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