Sexual Harassment at School

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Sexual Harassment at School.

Sexual Harassment Scenarios
A Hostile Environment
Am I Being Harassed?
How to Fight Back
The Butt Remark Dilemma
All too Common on Campus

It's Gets Better

Sexual Harassment Scenarios

School is tough enough without having to put up with catcalls in the hall and pinches in gym class. According to a study by the American Association of University Women, a whopping 85 percent of girls and 76 percent of guys said they'd been sexually harassed in school (

The Office for Civil Rights considers sexual harassment to be unwelcome sexual conduct that hurts a student's ability to participate in school programs. The OCR is in charge of enforcing a law called Title IX, which requires schools to respond to cases of sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

But sexual harassment is a tricky issue. When does a harmless dirty joke become a serious offense? Let's look at some examples:

These are all pretty clear-cut cases of what's called quid pro quo ("this for that") sexual harassment. If a teacher (or another school employee) rewards a student for going along with his advances, or punishes a student for rejecting them, that's harassment. It's an abuse of power, and it's illegal.

A Hostile Environment

Things get more confusing when we're talking about another type of sexual harassment in schools: something called hostile environment harassment. If sexual advances are bad enough that they make it difficult or unpleasant for a student to do regular school stuff — like pay attention in class, play on a sports team, or just walk through the halls — it's called "hostile environment harassment."

This can get a little iffy — telling one dirty joke isn't considered harassment, while grabbing a student's breasts definitely is. But what about all the stuff in between that goes on all the time in classrooms, locker rooms, and hallways?

If there's a single incident that's really bad — like groping — it's serious enough to be considered harassment. If it's less serious, but the student keeps getting harassed over and over again, that's also considered hostile environment harassment. For instance, a guy asking a girl out on a date — even if she's totally not interested — isn't considered harassment. But if he asks her again and again in a threatening way, that's harassment.

Here are some other examples of less serious behavior that could be considered harassment if it happens on a regular basis (this applies to both guys and girls):

Am I Being Harassed?

Again, a lot of these categories can seem kind of fuzzy. What's the difference between harassment and flirting? If you're not sure if you're being harassed, ask yourself this question: does it feel good or bad? The bottom line: flirting feels good (for both people!); harassment feels bad.

How to Fight Back

Sexual harassment can make people feel embarrassed and powerless. But you're not helpless, and you don't have to take it! Because of Title IX, schools have to take action if a student is being harassed. Tell the principal, or talk to a teacher or guidance counselor whom you trust. It's also a good idea to keep track of the incidents — write them down in a journal, or tell a friend who can back you up.

In short, never accept the excuse that "boys will be boys" (or "girls will be girls," for that matter). Know your rights, and know that sexual harassment — unlike homework, zits, and SATs — is not a bad teenage experience that you have to put up with.

Source: Susan Yudt  

The Butt Remark Dilemma

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a crude remark? Want to know how to handle unsolicited remarks? Get into the head of one girl as she explores the difference between flirting and sexual harassment.

All too Common on Campus

Nearly two-thirds of undergraduates, male and female, say they have been sexually harrassed either verbally or physically while in college, and another student or group of students usually is the perpetgrator. FIndings are based on an online survey in May, 2005 of 2,036 full- and part-time undergrads ages 18-24 enrolled in a two-or four-year college last spring. Data were adjusted to be nationally representative. In some cases, students said they were so upset by harassment that they dropped a course or changed schools. Among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, 60% said they had taken steps to avoid the harassment, 9% said they transferrede.

Colleges that receive federal money are required to designate a representative to handle sexual harassment. Most students (79%) said they were aware of campus policies against sexual harassment.

Findings suggest harassment is more common on large campuses and more prevalent at four-year campuses. Also, white students were most likely to say they had been harassed.

Some experts caution schools against overracting. "There are aspects of harassment that nobody disagrees with," says Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based non-profit. But "too many people think harassment is the same thing as being offended. Offending somebody is not a crime."

Incidents Reported
A survey finds 62% of female students and 61% of male students say they have
been sexually harassed while in college. Among incidents reported:



Sexual comments, jokes, gestures, looks


Flashed or mooned


Touched, grabbed or pinched in a sexual way


Someone brushed up against them in a sexual way


Sexual pictures, photo, web pages, illustrations, messages or notes


Called gay, lesbian or a homophobic name


Source: USA Today

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