The suspension of a 6-year-old boy for kissing a girl at school is raising questions about whether the peck should be considered sexual harassment.
The boy's mother said officials at Lincoln School of Science and Technology in Canon City, a Colorado city of 16,000, are over-reacting.
Jennifer Saunders said her son was suspended once before for kissing the girl and had other disciplinary problems, and she was surprised to find out that he would be forced out of school again for several days.
First grader Hunter Yelton told KRDO-TV that he has a crush on a girl at school and she likes him back.
"It was during class, yeah. We were doing reading group, and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That's what happened," he said.
Saunders said she saw nothing wrong with her son's display of affection. She said she punished him for other problems in school, including rough-housing. She was shocked when the school's principal brought up the term "sexual harassment" during a meeting.
"This is taking it to an extreme that doesn't need to be met with a six year old. Now my son is asking questions. what is sex mommy? That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a six year old," she said.
District superintendent Robin Gooldy told The Associated Press on Tuesday the boy was suspended because of a policy against unwanted touching.
"The focus needs to be on his behaviour. We usually try to get the student to stop, but if it continues, we need to take action and it sometimes rises to the level of suspension," he said.
He said officials have not heard from the girl's parents, and no legal action is anticipated because it was only a violation of school policy.
In recent years, Colorado and other states have been moving to relax zero-tolerance disciplinary policies blamed for increasing the dropout rate and giving students criminal records for relatively minor infractions.
However, those policies have dealt mostly with safety issues, such as students fighting or bringing a replica gun to school, not sexual harassment.