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Teachers: Address street harassment

In anti-street harassment week, Stories, street harassment | on 03.27.12 | by | Comments ( 1 )

Editor’s Note: This is cross-posted with permission from Feminist Teacher.

The success of last week’s International Anti-Street Harassment Week was astonishing. Organized by leading anti-street harassment activist Holly Kearl, founder of the well-known blog Stop Street Harassment, the week featured the work of the most cutting-edge activists in the field, including dance performances by Sydnie Mosley and her Window Sex Project and a viral video featuring Joe Samalin and other male allies telling men to just stop harassing women in both English and Spanish.

Grace, Ileana, and Emma

As part of the week’s events, two of my students, Grace and Emma, and I spoke at the Meet Us On the Street rally in New York. Grace shared a portion of the testimony that she read to last year’s New York City Council hearing on street harassment and Emma, who is also a SPARK blogger against the sexualization of girls and women in the media, shared her own vision for safer streets and communities not just for herself but also for her own sister.

I spoke about the importance of engaging teachers in the global movement against street harassment as an education and health issue for schools.

But the work doesn’t stop there. It’s important to show students that activism needs to be consistent, and not done in a flavor-of-the-month style. That’s why last fall, students in my high school feminism course partnered with other students at our school to create their own anti-street harassment public service announcement (PSA).  Their goal: to educate their peers about the gravity of street harassment in their daily lives.

As part of the background work to create the video, I invited activists from Girls for Gender Equity, Hollaback!, The Line Campaign, Men Can Stop Rape, and Right Rides to talk to my students. Activist Shelby Knox also visited to talk about her film, The Education of Shelby Knox. Each of them shared their expertise, provided students with materials, and ultimately inspired them to create their PSA.

You can create your own PSA with your students too. Start, as I did, with educating your students about the issue by inviting activists to your classroom. Then have students envision a PSA that would be relevant and engaging for your school community. Screen the PSA at an upcoming assembly. Then join the revolution.  See above for inspiration.

Ileana Jiménez has been a leader in the field of social justice education for 15 years. A 2010-11 recipient of the Distinguished Fulbright Award in Teaching, her research in Mexico City focused on creating safe schools for Mexican LGBT youth. Currently a teacher at the Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI) in New York, she offers courses on feminism, LGBT literature, Toni Morrison, and memoir writing. In addition to teaching at LREI, Ileana is also an associate faculty member at Bard College’s Institute for Writing and Thinking.

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One Response

03.27.12

Ileana, you are inspiring!

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