Adapt-a-Skit Kit for gender equity

From: Linda Purrington (
Date: Fri May 12 2000 - 09:55:06 EDT

Adapt-a-Skit Kit for gender equity in the schools
> Copyright l996 Linda Purrington, Title IX Advocates,
> Please use freely, adapt as needed; and give
> credit to the source.
> The following script suggestions were written to help solve and prevent
sexual discrimination and harassment in U.S. schools.
> To provide an equal opportunity for education, schools must prevent
> discrimination that blocks students' ability to use their education.
> There are two ways of doing so: You can provide vicarious learning to
> the perpetrators and bystanders through punishing the perpetrators and
> providing clear consequences for discriminators (via policies,
> procedures, etc.). Or you can provide vicarious learning by teaching
> about the ethical, legal, and psychological consequences of
> discrimination. Both patterns work, if consistently enforced or applied.
> Education by itself is not effective; nor is punishment without drawing
> the lessons for everyone else.
> Second, there is a tendency to forget the power gradient in all forms of
> discrimination: People tend to blame victims for their own
> victimization, to say the girls need to be more assertive, the students
> do it to each other, the girls are more vicious than the boys, and the
> school adults are not responsible. The teachers and administration are
> in fact the most powerful people in the school system. They are far
> better organized and educated than the parents. Research shows that
> sexual harassment of students is done, in about 20 percent of the cases
> reported, by teachers, administrators, and other school adults. These
> are the bad apples that role-model sexual discrimination. In addition,
> the rest of the harassment, student-to-student, takes place in
> classrooms, hallways, playgrounds, and other open areas presumably under
> adult supervision. The students learn a hidden lesson from the adult who
> stands by and does nothing or silently abets the cultural status quo.
> Before the students can learn how to live with one another, they must
> see role models who do not discriminate and victimize other people; who
> in fact stand up for and help others. Adults need to be those role
> The following incidents have been gleaned from real cases all across the
> United States; each shows the crucial role of adults in the dynamic of
> discrimination. Each is followed by one possible course of events that
> would help handle and prevent discrimination in that environment. Adapt
> for your audiences.
> Place: Not far away, in a school.
> Early in the morning, two parents stand at school bus stop; kids pile
> in, bus roars off. Parents read a newspaper, article about a school
> conference; educators place blame for in-school sexual harassment and
> discrimination on bad parents and bad peer influences.
> The parents comment on how their kids seem to be bringing home problems
> from school.
> Commentator introduces, briefly, the heroine and her friends, the
> principal and the teachers, and all the rest of the kids, who serve as a
> sort of Greek chorus, watching and reacting to the main action. They may
> hold up signs to show location, etc., and to comment on the action.
> What follows is a series of incidents, roughly sketched here, to be
> fleshed out by the kids/actors; there should be at least three
> incidents, and probably no more than five.
> We recommend presenting each incident with a solution, a positive
> action, based on the law and gender equity experience.
> Incident 1:
> Kids stream into the gym for a volleyball or basketball game; they greet
> their coach, and the rest of the kids pile onto the "bleachers."
> The heroine goes out with the first string and shoots a couple of shots;
> the coach doesn't like what she is doing, and calls her off the court.
> She sits down on the bench in a huff; he puts his arm around her
> shoulder, and she tells him, "Get your hands off me."
> He gets angry, and holds her until she bursts into tears (or slaps him).
> Then he says, "That's it. You're benched until you can take discipline."
> She stalks off the court; the boys scatter onto the court, taking it
> over, grabbing the balls. The girls have bunched up around the heroine,
> consoling her; now they stream back onto the court and chant, "No means
> no, wherever I go!"
> The next day the coach says she will not get on the team because she
> can't take discipline.
> The girl's father calls up and says that that is retaliation, and he
> will have to report it to the Office for Civil Rights unless the problem
> is cleared up.
> The coach says he never meant to discriminate, and can now see the
> girl's point of view.
> Incident 2:
> A class of students is working on microscopes in the science lab.
> A male teacher comes through, touches a girl's neck.
> She squirms and says, "Get off me!"
> He insists, laughing.
> Finally the girl says loudly, "You better stop, my father's already mad
> at you!"
> He drops his hand as if it had been burnt, and says, "It was just a
> joke, we were having a little joke."
> The girl says, "Well, no, actually-you were harassing me."
> She goes off to the pay phone and tells her mother what happened-not
> making a big deal out of it, just as part of telling her she will need
> more money for lunches tomorrow.
> The mother calls the teacher and tells him that it is important for
> girls not to have the experience of being unable to get a man to stop
> touching her.
> The next day the principal sets up staff development workshops to teach
> staff how to adapt to changing conditions under the law of Title IX.
> Incident 3:
> The math teacher has the class form into two teams--boys and girls.
> The heroine speaks out: "That's illegal."
> The teacher says, "You be quiet, I know the law, and this is fine."
> The girl speaks out again, "My mom says it's illegal."
> Teacher sends her to the principal's office; the principal says she
> should stop criticizing and go learn something .
> All the watcher/kids hold up signs and say, "We are learning something,
> Yup, we sure are!"
> The next day the girl brings in her cousin, who is a Title IX lawyer, to
> explain the law: no school activities may even be gender segregated
> unless for a bona fide reason, such as bathrooms and contact sports.
> This includes any activities that take place on school grounds or
> facilities, even though they are not part of the school program.
> Incident 4:
> A middle school girl is practicing shotput. A boy comes over and tries
> to push her away from her spot on the line, saying it belongs to him.
> She stands her ground. The teacher standing nearby does nothing. The boy
> goes tearing off, sees a gopher pushing up a pile of dirt on the
> playground. He throws the shot ball, bashes the gopher's head partially
> in, picks it up and tears the head off, and then flings it on the ground
> and stamps on it. Some boys cheer, some girls scream. The teacher give
> the boy l0 extra credit points. [Remember-a real incident.]
> Another teacher sees the incident, brings charges against the teacher to
> the teacher's union. The principal expels the boy. The school
> psychologist recommends expelling the teacher and providing counseling
> for the boy.
> Incident 5:
> A history class.
> The boys harass a busty girl by calling her cow, and mooing loudly as
> she sits down, stands up to sharpen a pencil, raises her hand to answer
> a question.
> The history lesson is about the Nazi government and the Vichy regime in
> France; throughout the lesson, the boys harass the girl and the teacher
> never looks up or intervenes for her.
> At one point the teacher puts a definition on the board: "A collaborator
> is someone who helps commit a crime, sometimes by just not interfering."
> At this point the kids in back row hold up signs that say, "Oh, really?"
> and that have light bulbs on them.
> The heroine says, "Including teachers who don't help girls who are
> sexually harassed in their classes?" All the kids turn around so that
> the focus is on her and the teacher.
> The next day the parents of the girl announce that as this has gone on
> all year and they have gotten no help from the principal in providing
> protection for the girls in the class, they are now filing a report with
> the Office for Civil Rights, and if a hostile environment for girls'
> education is found to exist, they will be suing the school district for
> damages and to force change in enforcement of Title IX.
> Incident 6:
> A girl goes into the bathroom and sees graffiti that say she's a puta (a
> ho), and does animal sex acts.
> She complains to the principal, who says, "Look on the bright side, it's
> in Spanish, no one will understand it."
> She calls the Office for Civil Rights, and an investigator comes out and
> tells the principal that this is the fifth time the OCR has been called
> out to the school for a combination of Title IX (gender equity) and
> Title VI (racial equity) violations. Now the OCR is going to recommend
> that the principal be removed, and that the school's federal funds be
> impounded until all the administrators receive staff training on how to
> help girls of minority racial-ethnic background get equity.
> Incident 7:
> A playground. The girls are playing basketball or handball. The boys
> grab the ball, trip the girls, who call out to the teachers, who turn
> away from them, ignoring them.
> Finally the girl gets angry and hits a boy.
> The teachers immediately turn around and scold her and send her to be
> benched as punishment.
> The other girls bunch up, protesting, and finally come in a group to the
> parent aides who are helping patrol the playground, to ask that the
> girls be let off and the boys benched instead.
> Several of the parent aides confer and decide that the girls' punishment
> wasn't fair, and bring their concerns to the PTA meeting.
> The parents decide to hold a conference with the teachers to explain the
> law on gender discrimination.
> Incident 8:
> A girl has been raped over the weekend; now she must return to school.
> Some of the kids ask her if she liked the experience, and taunt her.
> She tells the counselor that she wants to commit suicide.
> The counselor says, "Don't; let's deal with it."
> The principal agrees, and the taunters are suspended for two weeks,
> required to write a public apology, and do l0 hours of community service
> for a local rape crisis center.
> The taunters do the required, but then continue to retaliate against the
> girl.
> She says she wants to go on home study.
> The counselor and the principal say no, they will expel the taunters and
> recommend that they go on home study instead.
> This is done, and the girls form an escort for her to all her classes,
> until she feels better-this could be for a year.
> Incident 9:
> It is lunch hour on the quad. A large group of students are baiting a
> boy for " being gay."
> He tells a friend in the drama department.
> The friend says, "Oh, I've seen how those kids deal with it when their
> classmate gets bald from chemotherapy for cancer-everyone shaves their
> heads."
> The next day, the harassers in the quad start up again, only to be
> surrounded by a huge bunch of kids wearing wild clothes and sporting
> signs that say, "Guess what? We're all gay! We're all foreigners! We're
> all girls! Hey, man, we're anything you don't like!"
> They chase the harassers out of the quad, then sit down and have lunch.
> Written by Linda Purrington, Title IX Advocates,
> Please use these skits freely, adapt as needed; and give credit to the
> source.

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