Gorham principal calls out MTV and local radio station, shuts down all remaining dances over ‘grinding’ controversy

Singer Miley Cyrus reflects on her controversial grind against Robin Thicke at this year's MTV Video Music Awards in August. (Reuters photo)

Singer Miley Cyrus reflects on her controversial grind against Robin Thicke at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards in August. (Reuters photo)

In a letter posted on the Gorham High School website, Principal Chris Record said he’s calling off all remaining school dances — with the exception of the Prom — for the school year.

Record said the prevalence of provocative dancing — specifically grinding, gyrating at the midsection as demonstrated by singer Miley Cyrus above — has become too challenging for chaperones and administrators trying to maintain decorum at the events.

“It is by no means the students’ fault, but the dancing they have witnessed on MTV/VHS/movies involves primarily only sexually suggestive grinding,” he wrote.

Also, according to the principal, “younger students have complained about being forced/manipulated/encouraged to participate in grinding,” and “[p]arents have complained about how their children have been harassed at dances and/or exposed to conduct that they believe should not occur at school.”

In his letter, Record recalls a case last year when two-thirds of the students walked out of a dance in protest after being told grinding wasn’t allowed, then were invited onto the air at Portland radio station WJBQ, 97.9 FM, to air their grievances.

“This was a difficult time for our school culture, as GHS administration was being vilified by students, some parents, and on the radio airwaves,” Record wrote, in part.

For its part, WJBQ likened the Gorham controversy to a real-life version of the movie “Footloose,” in which teenagers are starting to spread their wings and express themselves, while conservative grown-ups are trying to bottle them up.

It’s a teenagers-versus-adults cultural clash that seems to have played out in every generation, going back to the parental outcry over Elvis Presley shaking his hips in the 1950s and beyond. But the school administration believes it’s really out of hand this time around, especially if younger students are being intimidated or pressured into sexually suggestive activity they’re uncomfortable with.

“Do you think this is really playing out just like ‘Footloose?'” WJBQ asks in its post. “Do you think the administration is going too far? Do you think the music we play on Q97.9 has anything to do with it? Do you think it was wrong for us to put the Gorham high kids on the air to talk about it?”

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.