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11-year-old Azlyn was so excited for the upcoming school dance that she could barely sleep. She had picked out the perfect outfit and was counting down the days. But the dance that was supposed to be "the best day ever" took a heart-wrenching turn. A boy who made Azlyn uncomfortable asked her to dance, and she did what every young woman should feel comfortable doing: She politely said no. But the school staff intervened and made Azlyn dance with this boy, citing a school rule against turning down anyone who asks you to dance. Azlyn's mom, Alicia, is fighting to get this policy changed, but, so far, the school won't budge, saying that "it's the nice thing to do." In fact, Azlyn was told that she should stay home instead of dancing.1 So, on March 16, Azlyn's mom is going directly to the school board to fight for her daughter's right to consent and get the school to do the right thing.
Young girls shouldn't be forced by their schools to dance with everyone who asks. They should be taught that no one can touch their bodies without consent. This is an issue that goes beyond just one girl or one school district. Policies like this one teach boys from an early age that they have the right to touch girls, and teach girls that they can't say no. It's this kind of logic that gets used to doubt women and defend men like Brock Turner, Harvey Weinstein, and R. Kelly. Together, we can show the school board that tens of thousands of us have Azlyn's back and believe that consent is non-negotiable.