Essay on Sexual Harassment And The School System

Essay on Sexual Harassment And The School System

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Sexism is one of those topics that get blood boiling, makes tempers soar, and sends men and women alike on rants. Sexism in school can be an even touchier subject. Nonetheless, it is a subject that needs to be talked about and addressed. School counselors have a duty to address the sexism – both deliberate and unintentional – that appears in the school system. This sexism most obviously manifests through sexual harassment. However it can also appear unintentionally in school policies, such as dress codes, as well as in teaching styles. School counselors are in a unique position to be the ones to address this issue, through their work with students and faculty alike.
Types of Gender Discrimination in Schools
80 percent of school aged girls report experiencing some form of sexual harassment (Sadker, 1999). It has been suggested that such a high rate is in part a reflection of the school culture (Terrance, Logan, & Peters, 2004). Sexual harassment is normalized through comments such as “boys will be boys” and “it means he likes you” (Dockterman, 2014). By dismissing these behaviours, schools are inadvertently telling the victims that the behaviours are acceptable. With the negative psychological and behavioural consequences on victims of sexual harassment (Terrance, Logan, & Peters, 2004), this is a dangerous message to send. The majority of sexual harassment in schools is done through non-physical means, such as sexual jokes, rumours, taunting, graffiti, and gestures. The second most common form is being touched, grabbed, or pinched in a sexual way (Terrance, Logan, & Peters, 2004). While both boys and girls are victims of sexual harassment in schools, girls have been shown to experience it more often and in more severe forms (Hand...


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... does not fix the underlying problem however. Many dress codes, the way they are explained, and the way they are enforced, are based on sexist beliefs (Raby, 2010). Girls who dress in what is deemed inappropriate clothing are labelled as problematic and inviting of the abuse. School counselors can work during the development of dress codes to limit the “slut shaming” and gendered language that can lead to these beliefs. This cause may be more easily fought for by male counselors (Coulter, 1995) but female counselors should not be discouraged from making their voices heard.
Title IX also applies to the gender discrimination in teaching practices. Unfortunately again, this does not prevent it from happening. In these situations, school counselors may not hear about the problematic aspects until a student or multiple students complain.
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