All my sisters and I have gone to the same schools for the most part. It has been devastating for me to hear that my baby sister is experiencing the same sexist comments and lack of action that I experienced when I was her age, 13.
I decided to ask my friend Jeff Perera for some help in providing me information about the White Ribbon Campaign so I can pass it along to some important people in charge of Whitby schools. I’m sending my email to the Whitby Trustee, Whitby Superintendent of Education, Safe Schools, and Substance Abuse, Violence Prevention Coordinator.
I’ve sent my letter to my sister to get her to look at it. I don’t want to send it until she has given me the okay!
Here are bits of the email.
Gym is one of the hardest times, as my sister has described it to me. She reports that the boys prefer to not have girls on their team and will avoid including them unless they have essentially proved themselves (ie: on school sport’s teams). The boys continue to comment on how playing against girls will be “easy” and my sister has had her male classmates tell her that because she is a girl it is ok that she is not good at sports. The teachers do nothing to stop these comments or encourage fair playing.
My girl friends and I dreaded gym and were ignored and ridiculed by our male classmates to the point of verbal outbursts and tears. Again, teachers did nothing except get angry, not at the unfair treatment, but at the outbursts which would occur as a result.
While at [high school] I would eventually drop out of Gr.12 co-ed gym from the sexist comments myself and the other girls had to endure…The bulk of this harassment was from a young man who I had attended [elementary school] with. He had said the same things at 13 years old that he was now saying at 17.
I was told repeatedly that girls could not play sports; some of us were made fun of for our appearance and one girl even for her sexual orientation.
My sister has also told me that teachers and staff single out the young girls in regards to their clothing. She has witnessed a fellow female classmate be yelled at by a teacher and threatened with a detention when her shirt rose up a bit when she stood as a result from sitting at her desk. Another staff member said to all the girls, with the boys present, that they should “cover up” despite the young boys wearing their pants below their waists and displaying their underwear.
…the message that one gender should “cover up” over the other sends a message to both girls and boys about what girls should be wearing which has recently been spoken about by local feminist groups (ie: SlutWalk).
I’m hoping the new interactive White Ribbon workshop for young people, especially boys, is something the school board will seriously consider!
A friend of mine, Jeff, is apart of the White Ribbon Campaign which is organized by men who want to end violence against women. The White Ribbon Campaign aims to redefine masculinity and tell boys and men that violence does not make a man!
Recently, Jeff has been speaking at local schools and doing activities with the kids. This post explains some of those experiences!