My Kid’s Weight Is None of Her School’s Business


monicaschoolSchools have long been more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic. Physical education has pretty much always fallen under the academic umbrella. But just as sex education is a tightrope for teachers to walk when it comes to what parents want their children to know, apparently so is P.E. — and I can’t say I disagree. Especially when it comes to measuring body mass index or weighing students. My kid’s weight is none of your damn business and, quite frankly, I don’t want my child all that concerned with what she weighs. Weight and fat percentages are the wrong approach for physical fitness educators to take. By all means, teach my child how to exercise and the difference between junk food and good food and how it affects her body but I draw the line at attempting to label or identify my child’s body type.

That’s why I was so thrilled to read about Ireland Hobert-Hoch, a thirteen-year-old student at Southeast Polk Junior High in Iowa, who is wise beyond her young years. An article on The Huffington Post details how Hobert-Hoch refused to be weighed and was sent to the principal’s office. Hobert-Hoch’s mother, Heather, tells The Huffington Post her daughter is a straight-A student who isn’t one to cause problems. However, she felt strongly enough about being weighed in school that she stood her ground and refused when her class was calculating their body mass index as part of the FitnessGram program.

“I don’t feel like it’s [the school’s] business,” Ireland told the Des Moines Register. “I feel like it’s my doctor and my mom and my own business — or maybe not even my own, because I don’t need to know that right now.”

When I read that Ireland said her weight maybe wasn’t even her own business I nearly cheered at my computer monitor. Because, yes! We need more savvy girls like her that recognize being a slave to the scale is no way to live and that we should never unquestioningly accept what those in positions of authority tell us to do. Ireland’s refusal to be weighed prompted other girls to say they didn’t want to be weighed either. So after the incident school officials asked Ireland and her mom if they would be more comfortable if Ireland were weighed in a private space. Uh, no. You’re missing the point.

“She doesn’t want her weight taken anywhere. The family stopped using a scale years ago and Ireland has “been very happy since then,” mom Heather Hobert-Hoch said.

As The Huffington Post notes, principal Mike Daily said Ireland didn’t get sent to his office because she refused to be weighed, but because of how her refusal “was presented to the teacher.” Whatever that means.

This isn’t the first time issues have arisen as a result of the FitnessGram program. As The Huffington Post notes, earlier this year, a third grader in New York City was given a letter from her school calling her “overweight,” because she weighed one pound more than the average for her height and age. The child’s mother said the information should have been mailed directly home, instead of being given to students. Or maybe the child never should have been weighed at school in the first place?

“My daughter is thin. She knows she doesn’t have a weight problem. But that night, I caught her grabbing the skin near her waist, and she asked me, ‘Is this what they were talking about?”‘ mother Laura Williams told Fox. “It was awful to see.” To me, that is tragic. It’s perhaps even the start of a lifetime of struggling with self-image. It never should have happened.

Back at Southeast Polk Junior High, principal Mike Daily says the school board will decide whether to continue weighing children. Really? Is it that important to weigh children, publicly, no less? Unless a student is competing in a sport in which weight is a determining factor in classification, they should not be weighed at school.

Students are not the property of the school system and their weight is no one’s business.

Image source: Monica Bielanko

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