|Alabama (Prattville) Student
Punished for Hugging Classmate Appears on NBC's
of public displays of affection in school is
hitting home in Alabama and has even
caught national attention.
mother of a student in Autauga County says
her daughter was disciplined for simply hugging a
the mother and daughter appeared on NBC's
The Today Show, to talk about
their frustration with a punishment they
believe is over the line.
went through school, I hugged my
friends," said Lea Muir.
daughter was given detention Monday at Prattville
Junior High School. She called it an
a little bit extreme, I think."
according the Autauga County School System's code
of conduct, "Inappropriate public displays
of affection, including but not limited to
embracing and kissing" are not allowed.
County isn't the only one school district dealing
with the issue.
last week, a school in Illinois punished a student for the very same thing
and a Texas student got in trouble for
holding hands with a friend.
was made to be something ugly and it
wasn't," Muir said.
the hug wasn't meant to be sexual. She says her
daughter was consoling a male friend who recently
lost a parent.
it going to come to next?," she asked.
"You can't high five or touch anybody? You
can't brush by someone in the hallway?"
says her daughter served out her punishment and
she doesn't plan to take any legal action. But
she encourages the school system to reevaluate
News checked with other local school systems
and found a more leeway in their codes of
conduct. In Montgomery and Elmore counties,
for example, touching must be of a sexual nature
to be considered inappropriate.
County school officials didn't agree to an
on-camera interview, but told WSFA 12 News,
they were simply following the rules.
the U.S. Supreme Court ruled schools could be
held liable by ignoring claims of sexual
harassment. Some say the ruling
puts schools between a rock and a hard
place. By not identifying all suspect behavior,
they risk liability. But when they do,
they often hear complaints from parents.