Jameis Winston wants girls to be silent, polite, and gentle. At least that's what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback told fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students at Melrose Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The 23-year-old pro-baller planned to deliver an inspiring speech about his three life rules — God, school, and idea that you can do anything you put your mind to. However, his speech quickly devolved into a gendered diatribe about the differences between boys and girls, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
After some of the students began fidgeting, Winston asked the male students to stand. He then said boys have to be "strong."
"All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down," Winston said. "But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right?"
He then made a troubling contrast between the expectations of boys and girls.
"But the ladies, they're supposed to be silent, polite, gentle," he said. "My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y'all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!"
His phrasing upset some of the school's faculty.
"We've been working so hard with our students giving them hopes and dreams and helping them raise their expectations," Bonnie Volland, the school's speech language pathologist, told The Tampa Bay Times. "In the beginning, it was so good because he was talking about, 'You can do it!' and really giving our students a positive message."
Winston later apologized for his "poor word choice," which The Tampa Bay Times criticized as "malicious, damaging, and hurtful."
"I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn't seem to be paying attention, and I didn't want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up,” Winston told The Tampa Bay Times. "During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some."
Winston's speech is especially troubling given the sexual assault allegations made against him while he attended Florida State University.
Erica Kinsman filed a civil complaint against Winston for "sexual battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of forcible rape," according to Vice Sports.
She claimed that Winston sexually assaulted her on December 7, 2012. The New York Times reports that Kinsman reported the assault to authorities, but her allegation didn't become public in 2013. By that point, Winston had earned the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the best college football player, and won a national championship.
Yet, the Tallahassee, Florida police never questioned Winston about the alleged assault. Prosecutors declined to charge him, according to CNN.
Winston has never been charged with rape. However, his language — that girls should be silent, polite, and gentle — mirrors the social expectations placed on women.
His poor choice of words are reflective of an engrained belief system — and elementary school girls deserve better than that.