Ireland Hobert-Hoch is an unlikely rebel. The middle-school student is soft-spoken, wears glasses and braces and brings home straight-A’s. Still, she was sent to the principal’s office for disciplinary action at Southeast Polk Junior High in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, three weeks ago, after she politely refused to be weighed.
“[The gym instructor] just told me to get weighed, and I said, 'No,' so she sent me to the office,” Ireland told The Des Moines Register. “I don't feel like it's [the school's] business. 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."
Ireland and her classmates were allegedly corralled into one room and had their height and weight measured in front of other students. The students were taking part in the FitnessGram program, which involves calculating their Body Mass Index.
School principal Mike Daily defended the program to the Huffington Post: "The issue anytime a student is sent to the office refers more to the situation and how it has escalated, not necessarily the event at hand. I know saying, 'Hey, we've always done this,' is not a good explanation," he said, but the measurements are part of a bigger assessment program. "If it gives kids feedback, that helps," he said.
Ireland was offered alternatives, like being weighed in the nurses office. She still refused, reiterating that it made her uncomfortable. Other students followed her lead and said being weighed also made them uneasy.
“It's very common among young girls, and even women, to become obsessed with the number on the scale," said Heather Hobert-Hoch, Ireland’s mother. She said she wants her daughter to have a healthy body image.
“My mom said [weight] doesn’t say anything about who you are, if you’re a good person or not,” Ireland said.
Daily will address the issue at the next school-board meeting, but Ireland is still glad she took action.