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In what universe is it OK to slut-shame a teenage girl?

The story about a group of teenagers (one girl and up to two dozen boys) having sex in a high school bathroom in Fort Myers, Florida, and then posting footage of the act on social media is shocking. How did they manage to get away with this without alerting school administration? Why did no other student report it?

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According to a Lee County Sheriff’s Office incident report, 25 males were spotted via a hallway camera entering the South Fort Myers High School restroom — after school hours — while the female was inside.

What’s equally shocking is the way this story has been reported in the mainstream media. “Parents stunned after girl has sex with as many as 2 dozen boys in school bathroom,” says one headline. Another reads, “Students film teen girl having sex with 2 dozen boys in school bathroom.” And another, “Teenage girl caught ‘having sex’ with TWO DOZEN boys in school toilets.” (Thanks for the capitals, just in case we don’t get the message — as in, how awful that this girl had sex with TWO DOZEN boys.)

To really ram the point down our throats, one outlet assured us that the “15-year-old girl apparently consented to have sex with each and every one of [the boys].”

Let’s just take a moment and do some basic math. There was one girl. There were two dozen boys. Why is the emphasis — both in the headlines and the coverage — on the lone female?

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One parent was quoted as saying that parents need to be more aware of what their kids are getting up to when school ends and need to be talking to their kids more. Another concern, raised by a fellow student, was that “a bunch of football players” were involved and have since been suspended, so the school “might not have a football team this year.” Another student wondered how it could have happened, due to the high level of security in the school.

Nowhere, across the numerous reports we’ve read on this incident, does one single person express any concern about this teenage girl. There’s been no mention of whether she’s received counseling or pregnancy/STD testing. Even if she was a willing participant in the sexual acts (and we don’t know for sure that was the case), in what kind of world is it OK that 25 boys line up to do this to a girl?

In fact, the only reference to the young girl, besides the fact that she had sex with two dozen boys, is that her mother is not planning to press charges.

Whatever circumstances led this teenage girl to have sex with multiple boys in her school bathroom — and anyone with half a brain and any sort of compassion will see that this is not simply a case of a bunch of randy teenagers — it’s a tragic story.

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What this girl needs is support and not slut-shaming. In terms of the bigger picture, this is yet another example of the tiresome “boys will be boys, girls will be sluts” message propagated by a depressingly large number of media outlets. It’s time to change the message.

UPDATE: The mother of the girl in this story has come forward to respond to comments about her daughter, explaining that the teen is a victim of a human trafficking ring that kept her captive for two years.

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