What started as a fun albeit suggestive dance video has resulted in more than two dozen San Diego high school students being suspended and banned from attending this year’s prom or commencement ceremonies (reports have anywhere from 31 to 33 students affected).
Created by students at Scripps Ranch High School in the conservative Northeast San Diego area (it’s both a National Blue Ribbon and California Distinguished school), the video depicts scores of female students engaged in the dance known as “twerking,” which has been described as “the rhythmic gyrating of the lower [body] in a lascivious manner with the intent to elicit sexual arousal or laughter in the intended audience.”
While students have expressed outrage at being so severely disciplined for the video (which was produced on campus for a media class), the school’s student handbook explicitly prohibits “verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature made by someone from or in the educational setting.” The video was shot and edited on school property.
The handbook (which students are required to sign) also states that any student who engages in a “major disruption” on campus are subject to a five-day suspension, being moved to a different school or even arrested.
DJ/producer Diplo, who has been closely linked to the twerking phenomenon with the hashtag #ExpressYourself (which is also one of his song titles) that solicits pictures and videos of female fans doing the dance, has weighed in the controversy via his Twitter account.
just let these damn kids express themselves
— dıpןo (@diplo) May 1, 2013
— dıpןo (@diplo) May 2, 2013
“I don’t think they should have gotten suspended,” senior Brooke Carlucci told NBC 7 in San Diego. “I think the filmers should have been suspended, but not the girls involved.”
“I just think it’s not that big of a deal,” added parent Mark Silverman. “It was just expression, maybe overly expressive I guess.”
All hope is not lost for the suspended seniors currently banned from prom and commencement. According to one such student, those involved “are on senior review and have to ask for their prom and graduation back in front of a panel.”