By The Matador Staff
Weinstein, Spacey, Cosby. Could similar allegations be found here in a school community? Sexual assault has been widespread among famous people in Hollywood; however, students, faculty, and staff are not exempt from this behavior. Sexual harassment, according to California Education Code 212.5, means “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature, made by someone from or in the work or educational setting.” Accordingly, our community has to increase awareness of the issue of sexual harassment and be vigilant to prevent it.
Within Alhambra Unified School District and nearby districts, sexual harassment from teachers toward students has occurred before. In 2015, Mark Keppel High School had an incident where a walk-on coach threatened and sexually abused a 15-year-old player. Additionally, cases of sexual harassment and abuse have recently been uncovered at Gabrielino High School, Ramona Convent Secondary School, San Gabriel Mission High School, and Schurr High School, to name a few. It is entirely plausible that episodes like these could occur within the immediate area, and we should not turn a blind eye to that possibility. If we ignore the problem, the behaviors continue and become normalized.
Furthermore, incidents of sexual harassment between students are not nonexistent. From vulgar comments made from one student to another, to inappropriate, overtly sexual hazing rituals, to even unwanted romantic advances, various forms of harassment can occur among students on a regular basis. Though this is not a characteristic unique to the local area, it is still unacceptable, and steps can and should be taken to make sure it is prevented. Students should be better educated via curriculum, not just a one-day assembly, about what constitutes sexual harassment and how to combat it.
In fact, students, though they may be unaware of it, are capable of sexually harassing their own teachers. From direct incidents, where students make sexually suggestive comments towards their teachers, to indirect ones, where they comment on their instructors and make them feel uncomfortable–such as complimenting teachers’ outfits and physiques, students can cross a fine line. Recently on May 25, a group of San Gabriel students vandalized our campus with graphic, sexual descriptions of teachers. This clearly was sexual harassment and traumatic for our teachers.
It is for that reason that we, as a community, need to convey a clear message as to what sexual harassment is. It is our responsibility to try and change course, to try and eliminate a culture that allows inappropriate sexual conduct. To do so, we need to acknowledge that this problem extends beyond the national scene and into our daily lives. This is not just Hollywood’s problem.