Piedmont High School has been making national and international headlines for the past week after reports that some students participated in fantasy leagues where "players" scored points for engaging in sex.
The furor began with an email that principal Rich Kitchens sent to the parents of high school students in the affluent East Bay community.
It said that during the school's annual date rape prevention assembly, school administrators found out that some male varsity athletes had set up a fantasy sex league. A derogatory name for a woman was part of the league's name. The practice had been going on for at least five years as part of a male bonding ritual.
"Our female students (unbeknownst to most of them) are drafted as part of the league," the letter said. "Male students earn points for documented engagement in sexual activities with female students."
The letter also said that an investigation determined that "participation often involved pressure/manipulation by older students that included alcohol to impair judgment/control and social demands to be popular, feel included and attractive to upper classmen."
The principal said the league had been disbanded. Yet school officials were not able to determine the identities of the male or female participants. Kitchens said his intent was to alert parents to the disturbing behavior and encourage them to have frank discussions with their teens.
Given that the story sounds like fodder for a reality TV show that might be called "Rich Kids Gone Wild," it wasn't long before news vans were camped outside the Piedmont campus. People as far away as Finland were chiming in online about the reports of promiscuousness among some Piedmont High teens.
Some residents of the close-knit town seemed to be more concerned about Piedmont's reputation than they were disturbed about teens -- who for all they know could be their own children -- engaging in sex acts as part of a competition.
They took to online forums to criticize the principal for providing parents with unnecessarily sensationalist and false information that led to the media frenzy. They said there was no evidence of criminal behavior and that teens were not coerced. Please. Who really believes that some students weren't subjected to peer pressure, which is part and parcel of the high school experience? How would this be any different from, say, the pressure to drink?
The much-ado-about-nothing crowd says girls also formed their own leagues and that the boys who participated have been unnecessarily vilified.
In other words, one big sweep of the broom under the rug.
The school district is now saying the media made the story a bigger deal than it is.
"Viral voices sensationalized what the story was," School Superintendent Constance Hubbard said Wednesday at the school board meeting. "Good kids can make mistakes. We have such a wonderful set of kids -- we don't want to taint them."
What about the taint on teens who have no sense whatsoever of how their promiscuous behavior -- and an apparent written log of it -- could affect them down the road?
A high school senior whose name appeared on one of the fantasy lists -- which presumably means she engaged in sex acts that were posted on a gossip board -- wrote a letter to Piedmont Patch saying that the principal has it all wrong. (The website -- http://bit.ly/TDAfF2 -- said it confirmed her identity but agreed to omit her name because of her connection to the fantasy sex league.)
Boys don't earn points for having sex with girls. Girls score the points for their "team" by "engaging in any documented form of sexual act with any boy or girl which through gossip comes to be known to the boys."
She seems to think that puts the girls in the driver's seat. She doesn't appreciate the principal's letter portraying the girls as victims.
The sad truth is this is another sad result of a culture that brainwashes girls -- from an increasingly young age -- into believing that their self worth is in their sex appeal to the opposite sex.
That's a fact whether a girl is growing up in one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S. or in one of the poorest.