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College sued for forcing students to have vaginal exams

Ally Hirschlag is a producer/actor/writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY and buys way too many toys for her cats. She contributes to several publications, including Bustle, and The Nerve, and enjoys writing about all things woman. In her spar...

College allegedly forced women to get regular vaginal exams and it sounds like assault

While I am all for exploration in the name of medical science, this is an instance where it went way too far. Two students are suing Valencia College in Florida for allegedly forcing them to submit to vaginal exams with probes. While the college claims the probing is voluntary, the students say their refusal would've negatively impacted their grades.

Last Thursday, two medical diagnostic students at this Florida state college filed a federal suit against the school and three of its professors for violating their rights. They claim that under the tutelage of their professors, Barbara Ball, Maureen Bugnacki, Linda Shaheen, they underwent mandatory transvaginal probing by another student, which was, needless to say, invasive and uncomfortable.

While this sort of examination by one's peers is apparently common in medical school, it's usually voluntary. However, these two students say that was not the case in Ms. Ball's class. The lawsuit actually makes mention of a second-year student nicknamed the "TransVag Queen," who told the two students that such vaginal examination by peers is necessary to be "better sonography technicians."

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Even if that is the case, such an intimate procedure should never be forced on a student, especially when it puts the inner workings of their vagina on display for the whole class to see. According to the lawsuit, the probing was a weekly occurrence, and the students in question "endured these invasive probes without a modicum of privacy. Plaintiffs would disrobe in a restroom, drape themselves in towels and traverse the sonography classroom in full view of instructors and other students."

If that doesn't sound violating enough, sometimes their peers would have to "sexually stimulate" them to insert the probe. When a woman is being penetrated against her will, as is the case in sexual assault, her vaginal muscles tighten to try to prevent access. Thus it makes perfect sense why it proved difficult to perform these procedures without assistance.

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But it only gets more awkward and uncomfortable from here. According to the suit, Ms. Ball would make oddly sexual comments to the students while they were being probed. "She allegedly approached one student... during a probing session and stated [she] was 'sexy' and should be an 'escort girl' [prostitute]." Based on that comment alone, it seems clear Ball's reasons for forcing vaginal probing on her female students were not entirely medically related.

While Valencia College maintains the program was acting in accordance with "a nationally accepted practice," these experiential accounts say something altogether different. It is apparent these students felt pressure from an inappropriate teacher to undergo these invasive procedures as a way to protect their grade levels. Moreover, because Valencia is a state school, the students' attorney, Chris Dillingham, told CNN it's a case for the federal courts. "The vaginal probes and my clients' right to refuse them without retribution; their First and Fourth Amendments were violated."

The school has yet to be officially served, but based on these accounts and evidentiary support, it's likely the suit will be brought to the college shortly. Even if the institution was not aware of Ms. Ball's behavior concerning these students, its initial response to stand by her methods will likely not go over well for the school in the long run.

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