I agree with Melissa about the effect that Title IX has had on sexual
harassment policy and prevention in schools. Franklin-Gwinett was a
call" for so many districts here in New York State and throughout the
country. Yes, the "bar" has been raised a bit with the recent decisions,
I have not seen an accompanying drop in the seriousness with which
are treating the issue. Is it still a problem? Yes, but I also know from
the districts with which I have worked that students have felt empowered by
the administrations willingness to "name" harassment as a serious problem
to build in procedures that encourage students to play an active role in
At the same time, I must add that while I have seen an increased awareness
and decrease of "boy to girl to boy" sexual harassment in schools, there
has been a flurry of lawsuits in my area alone involving "boy to boy"
harassment characterized by homophobic slurs epithets and, in some cases,
coupled with physical assault. Within 50 miles of my home, there have been
at least 4 suits filed against districts, administrators and teachers that
amount to almost $30 million. And I am aware of numerous others throughout
the country. One such case in the Kansas City area was settled out of
after former Attorney General, Janet Reno, had indicated she would sign on
the lawsuit on behalf of the boy alleging the harassment.
The persistence of these kinds of cases are indicative of school
that tolerate a "boys will be boys" attitude that is indifferent to and
seriously downplays the damaging and toxic effects this behavior can have
boys. I attended a conference at Harvard yesterday on Lethal School
that coincided with the National Research Council report, "Deadly Lessons:
Understanding Lethal School Violence"; a compelling case study view of a
number of the school shootings. It is no secret that this type of
harassment (bullying) was identified as a variable in most of the rural and
suburban school shootings. Though lethal violence is only a fraction of
school violence, let's not forget that boys in the AAUW report identified
this as the "worst" type of sexual harassment.
If I am not mistaken, such cases are covered by Title IX. If so,
efforts could be greatly reinforced by "naming" this behavior for what it
as well as by strengthening the legal connection with districts, educators
Craig Flood, Ed.D.
P.O. Box 2174
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
"Caring schools are safe schools."
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