In large and small ways, schools in the U.S. have become more like prisons over the past several decades. Entrances and exits to buildings are now more tightly controlled. Many main entrances now require students and visitors to walk through metal detectors.
As schools have grown to utilize law enforcement in place of counseling or other forms of intervention, they have begun to employ in-house police (“school resource officers,” or SROs). A perimeter of fences now borders what used to be the open fields of many schools. A school district in San Antonio has installed chips in student IDS – which students must wear at all times – to track the movement of over 100,000 students, and has even gone so far as to threaten students who failed to comply with suspensions, fines, and transfers.
So given the current trends, it would come as no surprise to me that in the event of a bomb threat hoax on the part of a singular student, administrators – acting in loco parentis (and sometimes just loco) – might employ restrictive measures on student freedoms. And given a pervasive institutional culture of gynocentrism and misandry, it is also unsurprising that they would profile and discriminate against male students in the process.
In the wake of a bomb hoax discovered in a restroom in a boy’s locker room at Bonners Ferry High School Thursday, school district administrators will close the campus for all male students beginning Monday. This means that all male high school students will not be able to leave campus from the start of the school day until the final bell unless formally signed out by a parent or guardian.
High school parents who signed up to receive automated alerts by phone or email received the notices shortly after 5 p.m. today. The email notice read, “Good evening. In order to ensure the quality of education and the safety of our students, Bonners Ferry High School will be a closed campus for all male students. Students must either bring their own lunch or purchase one from the school. Thank you.”
Superintendent Dick Conley notified school district chair Melanie Staples of a proposal to close the campus to male students and other steps on Friday morning, and Staples forwarded that proposal to the rest of the board for comment, but no official board action was called for.
Some of you may be wondering what they are referring to in requiring male students to either bring their own lunch or purchase it from the school. Some high schools allow students (particularly juniors/seniors) to leave campus for half an hour for lunch. What is more restricting, however, is the requirement that male students must be “formally signed out by a parent or guardian” if they leave at the final bell. I remember when I was a high school senior that every other day I did not have a last period class because of how I had advanced through the pipeline and arranged my electives. I would hate to just have to sit their for an hour and a half.
Beyond the functional limitations this imposes on male students, the key problem with the adoption of this policy is the very concept itself that it is acceptable to punish male students collectively for the actions of one. This is the same kind of reasoning that higher education administrators use whenever they acquiesce to reducing the rights of college men accused of sexual misconduct.
The decision of Bonners Ferry H.S. administrators is also visible on the front page of the school website on the right-hand side of the page:
What superintendent Dick Conley and Co. may have forgotten is that there were also two bomb threats by women in the same city just one year prior. As The Spokesman Review reports, one of them involves a 48 year-old woman who called in a phony bomb threat to the Bonner County Administration Building on the eve of the 2012 general election. And more strikingly, the next one – as the news group KHQ Local reports – was done by a high school girl in a manner very similar to this recent case, and at the exact same school:
We have confirmed authorities are looking for any threats after a handwritten message was discovered on a girls bathroom wall indicating a potential bomb threat. All students are outside of the school. No word yet if classes will resume today if no actual threat is found…this was a follow up post to my first one where I mentioned Bonners Ferry H.S.
In addition, there was another bomb threat made by a woman ten years ago to Rocky Mountain Academy and Boulder Creek Academy in Boundary County, the same county Bonners Ferry High School resides in. In other words, bomb threats and hoaxes are not a uniquely male phenomenon. Indeed, it is not even a distinctively male phenomenon in Boundary County.
And yet, here we are – forcing all male students to walk on eggshells under a cloud of suspicion and collective condemnation for the actions of a singular boy. Just as Feminists in higher education have long preached that “all male students are potential rapists,” Bonner’s Ferry now declares that all male students are potential terrorists.
The story of male students being the target of a collective crackdown for the actions of a singular student was quickly voted to the top of Men’s Rights Reddit. A comment by Redditor “Reckas” highlights the kind of common sense that often eludes education administrators:
My favorite part of that rationale is that, in their world, a kid who is willing to plant a bomb on campus is also willing to follow the rules regarding a closed campus.
In their world indeed. I couldn’t help but send out an email to the following:
Dick Conley – Superintendent of Boundary County School District
Pat Stewart – Title IX Coordinator for the State of Idaho
Melanie Staples – Chair of Board of Trustees of Boundary County school district
- David Brinkman – email@example.com
- Mike Weland – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Beverly Krichbaum – email@example.com
- Nichele Whittaker – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Gering – Principal of Bonners Ferry High School
The email is as follows:
Distinguished Administrators, Trustees, et al:
Greetings. My name is Jonathan Taylor. I am the founder of the website A Voice for Male Students, the motto of which is educational equity for men and boys. This is primarily directed to those at Bonners Ferry High School in Boundary County, Idaho.
I found the media coverage of the recent bomb hoax at Bonners Ferry High School rather interesting. What I found more interesting is the administration’s decision to punish male students collectively. In further looking into this case, I found it even more interesting is that there have been numerous bomb threats by women and girls in Boundary County (your county) over the past decade, one of which was made at the exact same school, and which was – like this one – found in a bathroom. There is no evidence that all female students were collectively punished for this hoax.
I have no doubt that you possess the kind of wisdom and knowledge that comes with experience. I also have no doubt that you are in touch with what has been going on in your own county, and that you assimilated these factors into your process of reasoning before you singled out and punished all of your male students. Indeed, that is a reasonable expectation. I won’t take up much more of your time, and will instead simply ask a few questions:
- If you found evidence in a bathroom of gang activity or drug dealing, would you single out and punish all your black students?
- If you find another bomb threat next year, would you single out and punish all your Muslim students?
- If you found a false rape accusation written onto the wall of a women’s restroom, would you single out and punish all your female students?
According to news report at KTVB, the process of reasoning of superintendent Dick Conley is that “Bomb threats aren’t fair, so we administrators don’t have to be either.” Well then, if you are going to be unfair, do you also plan on being unfair to everyone equally, or just to men and boys? Or is that normally the process of reasoning employed by the Boundary County School District?
These are all rhetorical questions, of course. I don’t expect an honest and direct answer. And there is a very good reason for that:
There isn’t one.
I have published material about your decision on my website, where it will remain indefinitely. Here is the web address:
I have also distributed it to various social media. Anyone interested in how Bonners Ferry H.S. – or the Boundary County School District in general – treats its students may now easily find this information. I hope you consider alternative methods of action that do not single out students on the basis of their sex, race, religion, and so forth in the future.
Oh, and Mr. Stewart, Title IX Coordinator: please speak out against discrimination against men and boys in education. If you don’t, others will inevitably do it for you, and they will do it in their own way. Here is a golden opportunity.
– Jonathan Taylor
Founder, A Voice for Male Students