Sexual harassment is in the news daily, and students are talking about it. Teachers and schools need to respond with appropriate lessons and activities, but often teachers fear treading in what they might view as a minefield. This month, we offer a range of approaches to teaching about sexual harassment, as well as guidance for teachers in dealing with complaints of harassment. of Education, OISE/University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario]
- Lesson plan on Sexual Harassment from Discovery Education – Discovery Education provides a straightforward lesson plan for high school students, in which they define sexual harassment, identify examples and consider appropriate responses. It includes possible additional activities, such as staging a student court to deal with a charge of harassment.
- How Do We Teach Students About Sexual Harassment? – A grade seven teacher writes frankly about the challenges of discussing sexual harassment with middle school students. She asks and answers: “How do you talk about sexual harassment with middle schoolers? You just do. And then you do it again, and again, and again. And you hope the message gets through, because it may go against the message they get at home, from music, from TV…or from the evening news. And that makes our job more important than ever.”
- Could the #MeToo Movement Change Sex Ed.? – Writing for Edweek.org., Steven Sawchuck reports on Grade Eight English teacher Stephanie Copeland’s approach to teaching about sexual harassment in the context of gender equity. Mr. Sawchuck says, “From the first time that a girl got her ponytail dunked in an inkwell, schools have been places where girls (and, in some cases, boys, too) have experienced gender-based harassment. Given the amount of time children spend in them, schools are also the most logical places to teach young people how to recognize harassment—and how to avoid perpetuating it.”
- Sexual harassment in schools: a guide for teachers – Rachel Curzons, writing for Teacher Network, asks: “Are you doing enough to challenge sexist comments? Are you making gender-based assumptions? Creating a safe classroom means asking tough questions.” Among her suggestions for teachers, 1) Challenge sexist language, asking, “What made you say that?” for example; 2) Deal with causes, not consequences, and, 3) Examine your own assumptions; “The way we engage with inequality shapes the learning of the young people we are teaching. Look at the way you treat girls and boys, and think about the assumptions you may be subconsciously bringing into the classroom.”
- Common Harassment Scenarios – The Webucator identifies 11 types of workplace harassment, involving jokes, pictures, mockery, intimidation, and humiliation, among others. In this short piece, it presents five scenarios that could involve sexual harassment, from inappropriate dating (employer and employee), to sharing racist emails, to wearing a turban to work. The exercises include guidance on how to exercise judgment in difficult situations.
- Cyberbullying Scenarios for Discussion – Students today are particularly susceptible to harassment in the form of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying.org provides teachers with a PDF document listing ten scenarios that involve cyberbullying. Short paragraphs describe the scenarios, following by sample questions to lead discussion. Scenarios involve sharing photos online, writing and repeating malicious texts and peer comments on a student’s sexuality.
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