Lincoln High School, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, has its prom this Saturday night. Should be a lot of fun. But it’s also, apparently, a night when the girls (and only the girls) have to protect their reputations.
Last week, these flyers began appearing on the walls:
You’ll want to click on that image to enlarge it.
A few things to note:
- The image suggests that boys have to protect girls’ character… as if they can’t do it themselves.
- The implication is if a girl loses her virginity, then she’s not classy, doesn’t deserve respect, lacks potential… (and that’s just from the neck up!)
- If you look carefully at the image, on one of the arms, some of the words that are supposed to describe girls’ character include “shy,” “tidy,” and “quiet.” Because if they’re assertive, outspoken, and bad homemakers, I guess they’re not woman-ing correctly.
- The flyer is signed at the bottom by the principal, Luke Valitchka, so he clearly saw and approved the message. The flyers couldn’t be up on the walls without his permission.
- The flyers are sponsored by The Crossing of Manitowoc County (a Christian anti-abortion clinic) and Holy Family Memorial (a Catholic health-care provider).
While the message on the flyers is disturbing enough, it’s those last two things that are real problems. Public schools are simply not allowed to post church-sponsored material on the walls. While student groups could advertise a Bible Club meeting, outside churches can’t push their beliefs on the students.
So besides being disrespectful and demeaning to young women, it’s simply illegal.
A student at the school, who was offended by the poster, took a picture of it and sent it to her older brother, who then posted it on Reddit. That’s how it came to my attention.
I spoke to the high school senior last night and she told me that she even offered to create a poster with a more positive message, one that doesn’t suggest a girl’s character depends on her “purity.” But when she asked the principal for permission to do that, he rejected the idea. In fact, he told her it would (and I quote) “tear at the fabric of society.”
The student plans on circulating a petition among her classmates this week to show the principal that she’s not alone in finding this message offensive (both for its message and the Christian sponsorship of it).
I sent a message to the principal last night asking why he allows outside Christian groups to post messages like this, whether he regularly tells girls that their self-worth is tied to their sexual purity, and if non-Christian groups can submit their own flyers to put up in the school.
So far, no response.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has also been notified.