"Nothing does change, unless its form, its structure, its language also changes. To work magic, we begin by making new metaphors. Without negating the light, we reclaim the dark: the fertile earth where the hidden seed lies unfolding." - Starhawk

September 1999
Vol. 1 - #7

Said It: Feminist News, Culture & Politics  

in this issue:

WTO: Confronting a Menace of a Millennium

We All Belong, Stop Harassment!

A Subtle Erasure

The Dailies: WTO Play by Play

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We All Belong, Stop Harassment!
by Kathy Baxter

The Roosevelt High School faculty gathered one Thursday morning recently and asked some questions: "How long a kiss is acceptable in the classroom?" "If a big guy stands over a girl and traps her against her locker, is that harassment?" "Do we have a responsibility to intervene when we see situations that are making kids uncomfortable?" "Do we have the right to intervene when things are making us uncomfortable?" "Wouldn't an employee get fired if they displayed that kind of behavior?" Tough questions. Necessary questions. Questions that are now being prompted by a pilot project called "We all Belong, Stop Harassment," a project designed to deal with and prevent harassment in the public schools.

It is a fact of long standing that schools have become tougher places to negotiate childhood and adolescence. Until recently, the reaction to this reality has been one of frustration but little action. But the legal and social climate has changed, and there is a new resolve to recognize and intervene with hostile elements in the student environment.

"We all Belong, Stop Harassment" is being implemented this fall at Ingraham and Roosevelt High Schools, and at Denny and Mercer Middle Schools. Several years ago, then Seattle City Councilmember Cheryl Chow went to the Seattle Women's Commission requesting their help in confronting sexual harassment experienced by girls in Seattle public schools. That early conversation has led to a powerful partnership between the SWC, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, and Seattle public schools, with additional help and vital support from the Seattle Commission for Sexual Minorities, the Seattle Human Rights Commission, and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. This partnership recognizes that, although by far the most pervasive form of harassment in schools is of a sexual nature, harassment of any kind compromises the safety and effectiveness of the learning environment, and cannot be tolerated.

The four school pilot project is establishing baseline protocols for training, tracking, investigation, and response to harassment incidents. Each school will undergo an all-school educational campaign with information for students, parents and other members of the school community. Although each school may include its own methods, a standard educational campaign will assist in a cross-school comparison for year one in the program. The Seattle Women's Commission hopes to eventually implement this program in every school in the Seattle school district.

The Roosevelt High School faculty did not find all the answers to their questions on that Thursday morning but, in collaboration with the students, the parents, and the Roosevelt community, they will spend this year looking for the answers to these and many other questions. If the experience of that Thursday morning is any indication, there will be a change for the better.

A substantial portion of the funding for the project is being raised in the community. If you would like to help with this effort, or if you would like more information on the project, you can contact Diane Pina at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights at (206) 684-0549.


Copyright © 1999 Kathy Baxter- All rights reserved by author.
All work contained in Said It is owned by the respective contributing authors or artists,
including all copyrights contained therein, and may not be copied, reprinted, or otherwise used
in any form without the express written permission of the copyright holder.

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