Kissing in class may be frowned upon, but is it sexual harassment? That’s what one school is arguing after suspending a six-year-old boy for kissing a classmate on the hand.
First grader Hunter Yelton was not only suspended from school after kissing a girl he liked – and who apparently liked him back, according to the boy’s mother – but also accused of sexual harassment by Lincoln School of Science and Technology in Canon City, Colorado.
"It was during class yeah,” Hunter told local KRDO News. “We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That's what happened.”
"They sent me to the office, fair and square. I did something wrong and I feel sorry," he added.
Jennifer Saunders, the boy’s mother, couldn’t believe what the school had done, especially since the children are reportedly “boyfriend and girlfriend.”
"That was the day I had the meeting with the principal, where she first said 'sexual harassment,'” Saunders told KRDO. “This is taking it to an extreme that doesn't need to be met with a six year old. Now my son is asking questions… what is sex mommy? That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a six year old.”
According to Saunders, Hunter had been suspended before for poor behavior and for kissing the same girl on the cheek, but she said the show of affection wasn’t unwelcome. She added that she would “stand up and fight” for her son and argued the sexual harassment charge should be removed from Hunter’s official record.
Saunders also noted that the family has been trying to discipline Hunter and convince him to change his behavior at school.
However, the school district’s superintendent, Robin Gooldy, told HLN TV that Hunter’s record won’t follow him should he attend school in another district, and that any discipline will end when he stops touching other students. He noted that the girl’s parents have not complained about the incident.
"Our main interest in this is having the behavior stop because the story is not just about the student that was disciplined, it is also about the student receiving the unwanted advances,” Gooldy said. “We have to think about both students in the situation."
School principal Tammy DeWolfe also added that suspensions are not handed out for just one violation, and that misconduct is tallied until it reaches a certain level.
Still, as the Associated Press reported, child psychologist Sandy Wurtele said kissing is normal behavior for kids at Hunter’s age, and that the school’s actions may negatively affect the child going forward. She added it’s only natural for kids to be curious about the differences between boys and girls.