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The Sexism of School Dress Codes
May 6th, 2016 by

Source: The Atlantic

These policies can perpetuate discrimination against female students, as well as LGBT students.

Maggie Sunseri was a middle-school student in Versailles, Kentucky, when she first noticed a major difference in the way her school’s dress code treated males and females. Girls were disciplined disproportionately, she says, a trend she’s seen continue over the years. At first Sunseri simply found this disparity unfair, but upon realizing administrators’ troubling rationale behind the dress code—that certain articles of girls’ attire should be prohibited because they “distract” boys—she decided to take action.

“I’ve never seen a boy called out for his attire even though they also break the rules,” says Sunseri, who last summer produced Shame: A Documentary on School Dress Code, a film featuring interviews with dozens of her classmates and her school principal, that explores the negative impact biased rules can have on girls’ confidence and sense of self. The documentary now has tens of thousands of YouTube views, while a post about the dress-code policy at her high school—Woodford County High—has been circulated more than 45,000 times on the Internet.

Although dress codes have long been a subject of contention, the growth of platforms like Facebook and Instagram, along with a resurgence of student activism, has prompted a major uptick in protests against attire rules, including popular campaigns similar to the one championed by Sunseri. Conflict over these policies has also spawned hundreds of Change.org petitions and numerous school walkouts. Many of these protests have criticized the dress codes as sexist in that they unfairly target girls by body-shaming and blaming them for promoting sexual harassment. Documented cases show female students being chastised by school officials, sent home, or barred from attending events like prom.

Meanwhile, gender non-conforming and transgender students have also clashed with such policies on the grounds that they rigidly dictate how kids express their identities. Transgender students have been sent home for wearing clothing different than what’s expected of their legal sex, while others have been excluded from yearbooks. Male students, using traditionally female accessories that fell within the bounds of standard dress code rules, and vice versa, have been nonetheless disciplined for their fashion choices. These cases are prompting their own backlash.

Dress codes—given the power they entrust school authorities to regulate student identity—can, according to students, ultimately establish discriminatory standards as the norm. The prevalence and convergence of today’s protests suggest that schools not only need to update their policies—they also have to recognize and address the latent biases that go into creating them.

* * *

At Woodford County High, the dress code bans skirts and shorts that fall higher than the knee and shirts that extend below the collarbone. Recently, a photo of a female student at the school who was sent home after wearing a seemingly appropriate outfit that nonetheless showed collarbone—went viral on Reddit and Twitter.
Read more ……… 

 

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School districts ramp up training after Forest Hills sex assault lawsuit, federal investigation
Jun 18th, 2015 by

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – After watching Forest Hills Public Schools undergo a federal investigation and lawsuit for its handling of a student’s campus sex assault allegations, school districts in the region are being more proactive about training employees.

“What was and is a difficult situation for Forest Hills is a learning opportunity for other school districts,” said Coni Sullivan, assistant superintendent for Human Resources and Legal Services for the Kent Intermediate School District. “We want districts to be proactive in approaching any type of harassment, not just Title IX.”

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. While most commonly known for promoting gender equality in sports participation, it protects against any type of sex-based harassment, such as sexual violence.

On Wednesday, Forest Hills Superintendent Dan Behm confirmed the district settled the federal lawsuit regarding the 2010 alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old at Forest Hills Central by a student athlete for $600,000.

Related: School pays former student $600K for sex assault, harassment claims

Under Title IX, schools districts are required to respond promptly and effectively to student-on-student sexual harassment and assault to mitigate the effects of the hostile learning environment.

This spring and summer, the Kent Intermediate School District and other ISDs, as well as individual school systems, are doing extensive Title IX compliance and investigation training. On Wednesday, Katie Broaddus, an attorney with Thrun Law Firm, trained all Byron Center schools’ administrators and directors.

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In March, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney ruled Forest Hills failed to train school workers on response to complaints of sexual assault and harassment. And the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights said the 10,000-student district failed to properly investigate claims by the girl in its report.

Related: Former Forest Hills student’s report of sex assault, harassment a challenge for families, district

Sullivan said the ISD held April and May training and one is scheduled for August that will continue to drill down on Title IX, all related laws and how to conduct thorough investigations. She said school leaders know now that OCR expects a parallel investigation to what law enforcement is engaged in if the case is criminal – and that it needs to be timely.

“When it comes to investigating alleged sexual harassment that also could be a crime, you can’t just punt to police,” said Lisa Swem, an attorney with Thrun Law Firm, who conducted Title IX training sessions for KISD.

“School officials are committed to complying with Title IX. “I think the OCR position is challenging, particularly when it involves an alleged crime. The fact of the matter is educators are not trained criminal investigators or forensic interviewers.”

Swem said Title IX cannot be looked at in a vacuum. She said there are many layers because of the different laws that can come into play, such as Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which generally prevents the disclosure of confidential information about other students.

School districts are sending more staff to be trained now, not just the designated Title IX coordinator or human resources staff,

“Once the news about Forest Hills came, I knew we had to train all our principals and directors,” said Byron Superintendent Dan Takens about Wednesday’s district training and sending staff to ISD sessions. “We all need to know what to look for and the appropriate steps to take.”

Northview Superintendent Mike Paskewicz said district administrators will undergo training in August. He said Forest Hills thought they were following appropriate procedures but everyone is aware now that OCR is expecting something more rigorous.

“Districts have to be very specific about their sexual harassment policies and be prepared to investigate,” he said.

Forest Hills said that a Kent County sheriff’s detective told them not to conduct their own investigation – a claim authorities later denied.

Swem is encouraging school leaders to be proactive and meet with their local law enforcement to better understand one another’s roles and responsibilities and to educate them on their federal responsibilities under Title IX.

The Ottawa and Muskegon ISDs will host a one-day training on June 24 to ensure that “reports and complaints are adequately, reliably and impartially investigated.”

Monica Scott is the Grand Rapids K-12 education writer. Email her atmscott2@mlive.com and follow her on Twitter @MScottGR or Facebook

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Supreme Court declines to review I ♥ boobies bracelet decision
Mar 20th, 2014 by

Source: http://legalclips.nsba.org/2014/03/20/supreme-court-declines-to-review-i-%e2%99%a5-boobies-bracelet-decision/?utm_source=NSBA+e-Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=eb3c3dcf2e-Legal+Clips+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_498fb22860-eb3c3dcf2e-312496857

Supreme Court declines to review I ♥ boobies bracelet decision

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Easton Area School District’s (EASD) petition asking the Court to review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s en banc decision in B.H. v. EASD, according to an Express-Times report in the Pocono Record. The Court’s rejection leaves in place the Third Circuit’s 2013 decision striking down a ban on students wearing I ♥ boobies bracelets. The precedent set by the Third Circuit that the bracelets represent a form of protected free speech applies to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit against EASD on behalf of Easton Area Middle School students, who wore the bracelets in October 2010 despite a school-wide ban and were suspended from school.

Noting that very few cases reach the Supreme Court level, John Freund, the attorney representing EASD, said he was disappointed nonetheless. ”Local school authorities need the ability to enforce dress codes and maintain reasonable decorum of the manner of expression in an educational environment, while respecting the legitimate rights of students to express themselves,” Freund said.

In Freund’s opinion, the Third Circuit Court’s decision departed from previous Supreme Court precedent on the subject, which likely means a similar case will be heard sometime in the future. ”Indications are that the Supreme Court will one day revisit that question,” Freund wrote. “Unfortunately, it will take more lawsuits, more attorneys’ fees and more chaos in the classroom before we get the answer.”

Mary Catherine Roper, an ACLU attorney who represented the students, applauded the Supreme Court’s decision. She said the Third Circuit Court’s decision opened the door to protecting student speech on political and social issues, even if the language used is sometimes considered lewd.

– See more at: http://legalclips.nsba.org/2014/03/20/supreme-court-declines-to-review-i-%e2%99%a5-boobies-bracelet-decision/?utm_source=NSBA+e-Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=eb3c3dcf2e-Legal+Clips+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_498fb22860-eb3c3dcf2e-312496857#sthash.mNSxXD9e.dpuf

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Know Your IX (in less than 90 seconds!)
Oct 21st, 2013 by

The Know Your IX activists have produced this video which is a quick guide to an individual’s legal rights and a school’s responsibility. (More detailed information is at their website.)

 

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New Brochure: Fair Play for Girls in Sports
Apr 26th, 2013 by

http://www.las-elc.org/fair-play-for-girls-in-sports

Fair Play for Girls in Sports

Fair Play for Girls in Sports

Since the enactment of Title IX 40 years ago, significant strides have been made in securing equality for girls and women in collegiate sports. However, compliance with the law in elementary, middle, and high schools is marginal at best. There is a similar need to ensure equal access to athletic opportunities for low-income girls through local Parks and Recreation Departments—a right afforded by California law AB 2404.

Fair Play for Girls in Sports is tackling these very issues with generous support from John and Terry Levin and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of California.

Fair Play for Girls in Sports promotes the health, well-being, education, and future employment opportunities of low-income girls in grades K–12 by:

  • Ensuring sports programs provided by public schools in low-income areas afford girls equal athletic opportunities as required by Title IX; and
  • Ensuring sports programs sponsored by state Parks and Recreation programs that serve low-income communities provide girls with equal athletic opportunities in accordance with California state law AB 2404.

See our fact sheet Equality for Your Girls in Your Parks

Download the Fair Play for Girls in Sports brochure

Find Fair Play for Girls in Sports on Facebook

Support Fair Pay for Girls in Sports. Make a gift online today

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