Sexual harassment is an ever-present condition of girls’ lives. We often feel like there is no escape from it, like there is no place where we are safe. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), 40 to 50 percent of high school students experience sexual harassment within a single school year. In previous research they found that at least 80 percent of students had experienced sexual harassment at school at least once in their lifetime. The victims of sexual harassment at school have been found to disproportionately be girls.
But girls already knew that sexual harassment was occurring so frequently. We already knew that we were disproportionately targeted. We also knew that gender non-conforming students, transgender students, students of different sizes, differently abled students, and students of color all experience harassment differently. Feminists have been fighting back against the rape culture that condones this behavior for years, but we felt that a component that is very often left out of the picture is the role that high school and middle school administrators must play in this fight. Teenagers spend more time at school than almost anywhere else, and many feel unsafe in these environments. Those in charge need to take action, and they need to understand that they have a responsibility to make their school a safe, healthy space for all of their students.
“In Solidarity” is a new campaign developed to address sexual assault and harassment within schools. The campaign aims to provide young girls with the opportunity to address these issues within their schools and approach their administration and faculty in order to work to create a safe environment in the schools. Day of the Girl-US is happy to announce that a toolkit has been developed for students looking to take action for this cause within their school. The toolkit includes a description of students’ rights according to Title IX and their relation to assault and harassment, instructions for how to present your plans to administration in order to make them aware of the need for prevention, and how to organize a faculty training session on the role they may play.