Female students helping shape new sexual harassment policy in Oakland

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 05:42PM
Oakland will soon have a new sexual harassment policy modified by female students.


OAKLAND, Calif. - Every school has a sexual harassment policy, but Oakland will soon have a new policy modified by female students.

The move follows a report about the experiences of girls of color in Oakland schools.

Sexual harassment at school has been going on for years, but Oakland student Kiah Killens says there's nothing playful about the behavior.

"They just sexually harassed girls, touched them inappropriately and girls will speak up and voice 'no, it's not ok,' but it wasn't respected when it came out of our mouths," student Kiah Killens said.

"A lot of messages we hear from music, or we see on TV, music videos," another student said.

Iminah Ahmad is a former Oakland student. She says those messages are sometimes embedded in popular culture, making them acceptable when they shouldn't be.

But a new student-driven sexual harassment policy wants to change that.

Oakland Unified and Alliance for Girls got together to start modifying the district's existing sexual harassment policy.

One major change is getting rid of language that suggests that a victim may be penalized for reporting sexual harassment.

"So that automatically shuts people down to say I don't even want to risk making things worse that what I have already experience, so I just rather not say anything and just sweep it under the rug," Ahmad said.

Another important new step is to keep the victim of sexual harassment informed of the process from start to finish.

"We have identified, for the school district, someone who can be responsible for making sure it gets from the time of the reporting all the way to the time of the resolution," Nzigha Dugas with African American American Girls & Young Women said.

The new policy will be presented to Oakland's Board of Education tomorrow night. It is expected to pass unanimously.
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