The MEGnitude of Change

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 05 2014

Breaking the Silence around Sexual Harassment/Abuse

A male student calls another female student “fat” in the hallway between classes. A rumor is spread about incriminating pictures of a classmate sweeping through school through Instagram. A male student calls his teacher “sweetheart.” A staff member squeezes the shoulder of a colleague in the hallway.

This weekend, I reconnected with my passion: advocating against sexual harassment and abuse. It is exists in our schools – among students and faculty alike – and yet too often is left out of the conversation. From microaggressions to deliberate disrespect, we witness it every day. It affects our classrooms, and it affects our data. And yet, within the TFA community, sexual harassment is markedly absent from our conversations. We don’t discuss specific tools to address instances of sexual harassment—or to teach our kids that skill.

What we permit, we promote. By staying silent, we are permitting sexual harassment in our schools. We have to stop.

This weekend, I took a step to break that silence. I stood up in front of a group of TFA corps members during our Oklahoma Regional Summit and spoke out against sexual harassment. While I stood out alone, I sat down as part of a community. My pitch was met with nods and claps and smiles. Immediately after my comment, another CM stood up to talk about rape culture. More nods and claps and smiles. By the end of the session, a group of us had congregated in the back of the room to exchange contact information – to continue this conversation.

We need to talk about sexual harassment. We need to not only learn how to actively address instances of sexual harassment in our classrooms but advocate for communities of respectful relationships.

With this post, I am starting to break the silence. Reach out to me if you’d like to continue this conversation – comment, e-mail me, whatever you like. This is a first step.

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