Almost 500 SF students convened at City Hall Friday to advocate for more actions from the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) on sexual assault and harassment cases — noting that the school district's response to sexual misconduct is lacking.
City Hall was loud with students yesterday afternoon from various public high schools in SF as they expressed a shared sentiment among them: They feel ignored by thier schools when reporting cases of sexual misconduct, claiming that these campuses do little to nothing to address sexual assault and harassment reports.
So proud of SFUSD student activists protesting sexual assault and harassment in and outside of schools, but this is not something they should have to do. Our students should be learning, not having to fight to feel safe and heard. We support you, and will fight to enact change! pic.twitter.com/xtj8Hr0P0b— Hillary Ronen (@HillaryRonen) December 10, 2021
“I am still in the same class as my assaulter and continue to leave (skip) that class every single day,” said Reesa, a senior in the SFUSD system — whose last name was withheld for privacy reasons — to the SF Examiner while attending Friday's planned walkout. “I have told administrators so much how difficult it is to be in the same class as him. I’m losing my education. That person isn’t losing their education. You should be protecting me."
The hundreds of students demanded SFUSD create a support system for survivors, as well as teach students, starting as early as elementary school, on the meaning of consent; many students Friday emphasized that sexual assault and misconduct are issues that affect both men and women, as well LGBTQI+ folks and non-binary individuals.
And the usual targets of sexual assault appear to be the youngest, most vulnerable among thier classmates — students who are less likely to speak up out of fear and bully from thier older peers.
"They usually target people who are alone or like freshmen and those who they know won't speak up," said Lincoln High School freshman Anya Balas, per ABC7. "They're upperclassmen. They are above us, it's really hard to say no," added Silmona Amanuel, another student from the same high school.
On Thursday, SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews and Office of Equity Executive Director Keasara Williams jointly said they were proud of these students protesting and taking action against sexual assault in the school system, each of them vowing to make necessary changes.
“Sexual harassment has no place in our schools,” wrote Matthews and Williams in a published letter. “SFUSD is committed to taking all appropriate steps to make sure we educate, prevent, and address any incidents of sexual harassment that occur in our schools. We also want students to know they have a safe place to share incidents that occur outside our schools and we work with city and community partners to provide support.”
According to ABC7, the school district has sent an email to families of SFUSD students that highlights the commitments it's making to prevent and respond to sexual harassment; protesting students yesterday, however, were clear that these glossy promises are just words — unless there's something to actually show for it.
Photo: Twitter via @@HillaryRonen