Mar 23, 2018
Sexual harassment and gender bullying is in the public eye these
days, particularly in politics and Hollywood. But it is prevalent
in schools as well.
In this episode we focus on sexual harassment, hearing a real
student-on-student experience from a student, Ava, and her mother,
Mia and how things were addressed connected to that incident. Karen
also shares an experience she had as a teacher being sexually
harassed by a student. Later in the episode, we hear from an
administrator, Mark, who shares how his school is addressing
these issues head on and creating a culture of awareness, as well
as shares some insights into the legal perspective of handling
sexual harassment in schools.
What is sexual harassment in schools?
- Sexual harassment is unwanted or unwelcome behavior of a sexual
nature that interferes unreasonably with a student’s ability to
learn, study, work, achieve, or participate in school activities.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, and schools are
legally responsible for preventing it. Schools must also prevent
harassment based on your sex, even if it is not sexual in
- Does not have to occur on school grounds – can be associated
with any school-related activity
- Sexual harassment covers a range of behaviors, including but
not limited to: touching, pinching, or grabbing body parts; sending
sexual notes or pictures; writing sexual graffiti on bathroom
walls; making suggestive or sexual gestures, looks, jokes, or
verbal comments; spreading sexual rumors or making sexual
propositions; pulling someone’s clothes off; pulling your own
clothes off; sexual assault; and rap
What do you do if you or someone is being sexually harassed?
- Tell the harasser that you want the unwelcome behavior to stop.
If you feel comfortable doing so, tell the harasser that his or her
behavior bothers you and that you want it to stop.
- Talk to someone you trust. Whether it’s a friend, parent,
counselor, or someone else whom you trust, find a person who
believes you. Doing this will provide you with support and can be
important evidence later.
- Keep a detailed written record of the harassment. Record what
happened, when, where, who else was present, and how you reacted.
Save any notes, pictures, or other documents you receive from the
- Report the harassment. Find your school’s
anti-harassment policy and talk to the person who has been
designated to deal with complaints of sexual harassment.
If you feel uncomfortable talking to the designated person, go to a
teacher or another adult at the school whom you like and trust.
It’s okay to bring a friend or parent with you to that
- File a complaint. You have the right to file a complaint with
the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, with
your state’s Department of Education, or to bring a lawsuit under
Title IX. You may want to talk to a lawyer about these options,
particularly if you are thinking of filing a lawsuit.
- Remember you are not alone. The most recent comprehensive study
of sexual harassment in high schools found that 83% of females and
79% of males reported having been sexually harassed in ways that
interfered with their lives, with 27% experiencing it often.
What is a schools responsibility?
IX (9) (a law for over 40 years)– Civil rights law that
prohibits institutions that receive federal funds from sexual
discrimination, and sexual assault/harassment is a form of sexual
discrimination that can limit or prevent a students right to
participate in education
- Under Title IX schools have a responsibility to protect
students from sexual harassment and gender-based bullying,
investigate allegations, and enforce the prohibition of these
- Schools often have written policies against sexual harassment
and gender-based bullying, but are not prepared to actually handle
- Delay the investigation, Deny the allegations, Distort the
facts, Disparage the victim, Deny the victim rights to
- Ignorance, the fear of liability, and concerns about public
opinion cause schools to downplay, ignore, or deny altogether
reports of sexual harassment/assault and subsequent retaliation
- 81% of students grades 8-11 report some type of sexual
harassment and 87% of those students say it has a negative effect
What should schools be doing? Here are some articles with some
Some resource sites for students and parents:
Thanks for listening and a big thank you to our guests, Ava, Mia
and Mark for sharing their stories and their