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The GEM Debate: The Grind Bind..Should Someone Lose Their Job Over This?

Black and Gold Grinding


Sometimes I just don’t think I was cut out to be a parent.  I don’t get all riled up and up in arms the way some do over little things, but you tell me if I need to react a little stronger to this one.

Dirty dancing, grinding, and the like were banned at Traverse Area Public Schools so what do some kids do?  They write about it in their school newspaper – with pictures!  The Black and Gold, a newspaper at Traverse City Central High School, issued “a guide for future reference” on the practice of grinding.  It was an informative, but satirical look at the rules of their district.  Had the rule been to not eat carrots while running and they had written an article with bunny rabbits infesting the school with wielding potentially dangerous carrots no one would have balked.  It was the act of seeing grinding in the paper that had some parents up in arms.

And it had me chuckling.

Maybe you’ve seen some of the things I like on Facebook or maybe you’ve gotten a sense of my zany sense of humor right here on Good Enough Mother.  I love when someone does something creative.  When kids do it to balk the establishment?  Oh, it’s on!  It was a funny bit.  The kids didn’t actually grind to create the pictures, they used stock photos.  They could have put up some sort of viral video, but they didn’t, they stayed classy.  And maybe the parents in Traverse City didn’t see “Footloose”, the 1984 movie starring John Lithgow and Kevin Bacon, because those kids would have been dirty dancing and grinding with choreography!  You do not want that.


The parents in the town want the faculty advisor, Missi Yeomans, who oversees the paper, fired, but get this.  This paper has won awards for its edgy, satirical writing.  So the superintendent, Steve Cousins, says that the kids crossed a line by not taking into account “cultural norms at the school” and, therefore, will make the incident a “teachable moment” by explaining to the kids where they crossed the line.  I agree with this course of action 100% and that’s where I wonder if I’m not parent material.  Maybe I should feel outrage, but instead I love that the kids were civilly disobedient.  They do still teach that, yes?  This is a classic example of that; no protests, no alternate dances at a barn off campus.  Just a good old article in the paper about how to make sure you don’t do the thing they said they couldn’t do.  Perfect.

As Rene and I discussed this in our early morning meeting she made this observation:

“…they could use it as a chance to discuss safe sex, proper behavior, all sorts of things instead of poking their heads in the sand and demanding someone be fired.”
Sounds better than Good Enough to me.


Oooookay, this is one of those examples of a picture being worth a thousand words. When I heard about this story, I thought it was absurd; parents getting up in arms over a little (in my mind) “close dancing? Absurd.

And then I saw the photo.

Oh. My.

Grinding has changed since I was a teen.

See, close dancing, grinding on someone, trying to cop a feel, I mean come on, that’s what teens do; this picture? That’s more like a how-to for future strippers. And the thought of my daughter or son in any of those positions is mortifying.

That’s not because I’m a prude or anything; I think we know that. But that, I believe, sends the wrong message about sex, sexuality and self-worth.

Having said that, I think asking for the teacher to be fired seems a bit much.

Okay, you’ve seen Ella’s take.. you’ve seen mine.. how about yours? What do you think about the story? Should the advisor be fired for allowing students to do this? Should parents be up in arms about the picture? How would you feel if your son or daughter was “grinding” in public?


More from GEM:

The GEM Debate: Prom, P.E. And Plan B… Should Kids Get THIS At School? (VIDEO)

The GEM Debate: LGBT Just Want To Have Fun, Too


  1. Christina Gleason @ WELL, in THIS House

    March 8, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I think it’s inappropriate to have appeared in the school paper, but I don’t think anyone should be fired over it. Having written for my high school and college newspapers, I’ve been involved in several “debates” over inappropriate content we included. In this particular case, while the graphic may give most parents the vapors, they likely haven’t chaperoned any of the school dances recently leading up to the grinding ban. Although if they aren’t doing this at the school dances now, they’re probably doing it afterward…

    On a purely subjective not-yet-a-parent-of-a-teen note, I think the graphic is funny, and wouldn’t be out of place at all in a college paper.

  2. Elle

    March 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Maybe not appropriate for a high school paper, but not something so bad that a teacher needs to be fired. A lot of seniors in high school are already 18 years old.People get upset way too easily. Definitely use it as a teachable moment and be done.

  3. Ella Rucker

    March 10, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks, Ladies!

  4. Silly Sillerson

    March 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Ok, so a few things should be set straight concerning this “racy” infographic.

    1. Grinding happens everywhere. It happens at school dances all throughout the country. It is prevalent in pop culture. While I personally find it inappropriate, parents who send their innocent little children off to these dances have got to be kidding themselves if they think that their kids can be censored from seeing images like this.

    2. The infographic’s satire is targeted toward the following: the students, the dance itself, and the administration for taking so long to ban the dance.
    Students – the reason the picture looks so graphic and edgy is merely to show what adult chaperones have to look at when at school dances. It’s an adult lens on how many students act on the dance floor today. The authors purposefully exaggerated the ridiculousness of the dance to lampoon the students themselves. The effect is to generate thoughts from students such as, “well gee, this does look pretty ridiculous. Is that how we really look?”
    The dance itself – grinding is often super uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable for those who witness it and for some who “receive” it. It is obviously a sexually explicit dance, so the authors included it to mock the notion that students feel entitled to freely express themselves this way on school grounds. I mean, come on.
    Administration – when this infographic was first released to the masses on Facebook, many were quick to assume that the kids were bashing the administration for recently banning grinding at school dances. This could not be farther from the truth. Instead of offering a serious (which it clearly is not) guide to a now disallowed activity, the infrographic aims to “thank” the administration for taking action against those who are uncomfortable with grinding at school dances. Using hyperbole, the students point out that, yes, this is very inappropriate, and what took the administration so long to realize something needed to be done about it?

    Further, the two students depicted are actually one student. This student is notorious around school for her involvement in the “Stay Gold” dance, an out-of-school function that bypassed administration to allow kids to grind as they please. This adds relevancy and context because she is essentially on the “front lines” of the grinding scene.The authors of the infographic have no affiliation with the “Stay Gold” dance whatsoever, and do not condone grinding in any way.

    Yes, the authors forgot how far reaching their paper goes. WIthout context of the situation, that it was recently banned at school and that people are arguing about what to do about it, it does seem confusing and clearly inappropriate. The intended audience, student of Central High School, understand that this is clearly a joke. The intent was to shift the topic of discussion to “what can we do to make this better?” As of now, nobody is happy with the dancing situation. Students aren’t happy because they can’t freely express themselves and parents/teacher chaperones aren’t willing to attend these school dances because it is extremely uncomfortable. Hopefully concerned adults can realize that this should promote the discussion of “what can we do?” rather than “what is appropriate to publish in a high school newspaper?”

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