As an educator-activist, nothing is more important to me than teaching young people the importance of civic engagement. In our video, I share the story of how each year, my Puerto Rican mom brought me to the polls in the Bronx to pull the lever for her while carrying me in her arms; my students then talk about why voting matters to them as young women.
In the same way that my mom carried me to the polls to share her voice, today and everyday, I carry the responsibility of teaching my students that they too must carry the legacy of change in their hands both for themselves and their communities.
In addition to providing key findings, the report highlights four promising practices that schools can take action on, including teaching women’s studies at the high school level. Teaching gender and women’s studies to high school students not only increases girls’ knowledge of sexual harassment but also shows that “girls [feel] more self-empowered to respond to incidents of sexual harassment.”
As part of my remarks on the panel, I pointed to this promising practice of addressing sexual harassment in schools as part of my own women’s studies classroom. Key components of my course on women’s and gender studies include:
Learning about intersectionality: As the AAUW report shows, the intersection of race, class, and gender can cause some students to fare worse than others when they experience sexual harassment. In my own classroom, teaching students how to analyze various systems of oppression, including sexism and racism, leads students to build respect for each other and in the end, decreases incidents of gender-based violence in schools.
Building consciousness for boys and working with them as allies. We cannot overlook the importance of bringing young men into the conversation in terms of helping them understand societal messages about masculinity and hyper-masculinity that leads to the kind of homophobia, transphobia, sexual harassment, and other gender-based violence we see in schools and on the streets.