A New Jersey Catholic school is facing accusations of sexism after a teacher proposed that the girls take a pledge not to swear for the month of February, while no such request was initially made of the boys, NorthJersey.com reported recently.
“We want ladies to act like ladies,” Lori Flynn, the Queen of Peace High School teacher behind the pledge, told the news outlet.
Instead of being invited to take the pledge, the boys were asked not to curse in front of the girls. The hope on the part of the teachers was for the good behavior of the girls to rub off on the boys. The principal also reportedly defended the decision to NorthJersey.com by arguing that the girls have fouler language than the boys.
While that argument could be anecdotally true, PsychCentral points to recent research showing that swearing among children has grown more common in recent years, but that men still swear more than women. Both genders also tend to use more curse words in mixed-sex company.
Regardless of who swears more, some girls at the school did not care for the apparent double standard of the no-cursing pledge and declined to take it, according to a local CBS station.
“I didn’t say the pledge. I had to stand there, but I didn’t say the words,” Rebecca Silva, a student at the school, told CBS. “They pulled all the girls from my homeroom and another homeroom I believe and they just took us to the library and expected [us] to take the pledge. We didn’t volunteer.”
In response to the criticism the school has encountered since the NorthJersey.com article, an archdiocese spokesman told the news outlet in a follow-up story that boys were invited to take the pledge in a ceremony held earlier this week.
“Once the boys heard about it on Friday or Saturday, a lot of them said, ‘We’d like to get in on it,’” Jim Goodness, the spokesman, told the news outlet, adding that he did not know how many boys actually took part in the pledge.
As word spread about the pledge though, Flynn said she began to see interest in the pledge at an all-boys prep school in another town. The teacher told ABC News that someone from the school called her and was looking to instate something similar, such as a civility code, for the period of Lent.
Gender issues aside, swearing on the part of those affiliated with religious schools has been a subject that’s already made headlines several times in the past few months. In September, the football coach of Notre Dame University, Brian Kelly, was called out by the Catholic Review for repeatedly cursing on the sidelines during games.
And a golf coach at a Methodist college was fired in November after a video of him shouting a laundry list of profanities at his players went viral.