BHSSH speaks at School Board
On February 8, 2017, BHS Stop Harassing helped a BHS sexual harassment survivor tell her story to the Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education during Public Comment.
After filing a complaint in December 2016, the survivor experienced a 60-day ordeal of retaliation and re-victimization, which caused her to drop out of her classes and enroll in independent study.
She did not receive appropriate safety plans and academic accommodations to make her feel safe at school. She was targeted outside of school as well, with house egging, vandalism, and cyber harassment.
When she reported to BHS administrators, she expected protection and intervention. Instead, she paid an enormous social, emotional, and academic price.
The policies and procedures that allow these types of incidents to happen over and over need to change.
BUSD needs to:
1) Adhere to Title IX law, which says that no student's ability to participate at school should be impeded by sexual harassment.
2) Give victims the same protections and supports as perpetrators. Teachers are obligated to collect perpetrators' homework for them when they are suspended. They should do the same for victims when they miss school due to their trauma.
3) Follow their own complaint procedures. No student should wait 60 days for a full safety plan and academic accommodations.
Please join us in ending the culture and policies of victimization in BUSD. Call or write to School Board members in support of increased victim protections and timely response and action around harassment complaints, demand student and staff upstander training, or come to a BHS Stop Harassing meeting. Let's stop history from repeating itself.
Story a Day Campaign!
We have exciting news! BHS Stop Harassing members Katy Thomason, Uma Nagarajan-Swenson, and Emily Levenson spoke to the BUSD School Board during Public Comment at the meeting on Wednesday, 1/27/16.
They asked for comprehensive training for students and staff on issues of sexual assault and violence and a simpler reporting process, two improvements that are greatly needed in our community.
They also shared stories written anonymously by students in classrooms and survey results sent to the Berkeley High administration, highlighting the prevalence of harassment, discrimination, and violence in our community and the desperate need for better education for the student body.
Unfortunately, students still feel unsafe coming forward and reporting when bad things happen to them in our district, so BHSSH will continue to anonymously collect stories and share them with the School Board and the public to show how much real change is needed.
To watch our comments at the School Board meeting, you can go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZRe6xxiR4c&noredirect=1 and watch from 33:10 to 39:04. Our adult advisor, Heidi Goldstein speaks about the need and means to obtain survey data on sexual violence and teen dating abuse from 53:57 to 56:04. You can hear BHS School Board Rep, Angelo Paraiso-Arroyo, give us a shout out from 1:31:59 to 1:32:57.
Check out this incredible video, made by ERA
Examples of our Work
BHS Stop Harassing spoke during Public Comment at the 2/27/16 School Board Meeting. We launched our ongoing "Story A Day" Campaign in an effort to illustrate how prevalent the issues of discrimination, harassment, and violence are at our school.
We are thrilled to share the news that BHS Stop Harassing was recognized at the Equal Rights Advocates Luncheon on June 11, 2015 as a “Champion of Justice” honoree. Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is a national civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls. We are very grateful to our many supporters and collaborators who have educated and inspired us over these past several months on issues of sexual harassment and ways to improve the climate at BUSD.
BHS Stop Harassing founder, Liana Thomason, was in the 3-4-15 Press Release from State Senator De Leon about SB 695.
Berkeleyside has written an article describing the Office of Civil Rights Investigation at BUSD.
BHS Stop Harassing was featured on the front page of the February 3 San Francisco Chronicle! Click here to read online or here for a pdf. These links can also be found below in the "In the Media" section.
On January 20, Samantha Kuderna-Reeves, one of our members, was asked to give expert testimony to a Senate Judiciary Committee concerning equal opportunities for girls in California's secondary schools; how our schools are complying with Title IX. Senator Loni Hancock (Berkeley) also attended the hearing, and members of BHS Stop Harassing were able to meet with her.
On Tuesday, January 13, several BHS stop harassing members joined two of our adult advisors in educating the Longfellow Middle School PTA about sexual harassment in BUSD and what they can do to help. Outreach to the middle schools is an essential step in informing our community and making it a safe place for all students who are affected by sexual harassment.
At the December BUSD Board Meeting, during Public Comments, several girls from our group bravely provided testimony about their own experiences of sexual harassment or lack of response to it in the district. A petition was also presented with over 700 signatures from both students and community members. Watch it here! Our portion starts at 3:30 and ends around 11:00.
"The Upstander Effect"
Rachel Siskin-Lavine, a junior at BHS at the time of recording, presented this incredible speech to a class of her peers. She describes what sexual harassment is and how you, as an individual, can effectively stand up against it.
Talking with the School Board
BHS Stop Harassing and other concerned organizations address the Berkeley Unified School District School Board on a regular basis on matters pertaining to the District’s policy and approach to improving the climate around sexual harassment. See comments on the district's official Vimeo page from:
- February 8th, 2017: 1:14:30-1:21:35 Survivor's story - Sexual Harassment complaint
- Aniya Williams (student) 1:28:25 -1:30:00 Sexual Harassment complaint
- Noah Ball-Burack (student) 1:30:09 - 1:32:14 Survivor's story and being an upstander
- February 24th, 2016: Abby Steckel, Maya Siskin-Lavine, Rachel Siskin-Lavine, and Lili Spencer request School Board action on incident reporting procedures, Title IX requirements, and anti-sexual harassment training. Remarks start at 42:24.
- April 8th, 2015: Alice Rossman talks about the inadequacies of the CSBSA Sexual Harassment policy and lack of progress in training and other elements of Title IX compliance
- March 25th, 2015: Students speak about the shortcomings of the CSBA sexual harassment policy and the need for student training ASAP
- March 11th, 2015: Liana Thomason, Josh Rouen-Keren and Avi Simon (starts at 1:05)
- May 20th, 2015: Liana Thomason talks about actions the School board can take to facilitate OCR access of student interviews as a part of their investigation (starts at 1:05)
- December 10th, 2015: Students describe the sexual harassment climate at BHS
BHS Stop Harassing Adult Advisors address the School Board:
- February 8th, 2017: Rebecca Levenson 1:37:27 - 1:39:30 Restorative justice and BHS handling complaints
- April 22th, 2015: Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee members Heidi Goldstein (starts at 19:17) and Margit Roos Collins (starts at 30:55) discuss funding for seniors and request an update from the Superintendent on the four critical sexual harassment initiatives underway at BUSD.
- April 8th, 2015: Peggy Scott (starts at 3:50) and Margit Roos Collins (starts at 6:28) talk about the four steps BUSD must take to comply with the basics of Title IX; Heidi Goldstein (starts at 8:34) talks about concerns with BUSD cooperation with the OCR investigation.
- March 11th, 2015: Rebecca Levenson and Heidi Goldstein (starts at 12:00 and 23:20)
Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee (SHAC) members address the School Board:
- February 11th, 2015 Peggy Scott on retaliation against girls targeted by the Team 15 Instagram page (starts at 3:40)
The Berkeley PTA Council remarks to the School Board:
- March 11th, 2015: BPTA Secretary Christine Staples with a personal story about how education empowered a student to get help to stop harassment (starts at 0:15)
- February 25th, 2015: BPTA President Tracy Hollander on the need to act now to teach students about preventing harassment (starts at 2:28)
- February 11th, 2015: BPTA Secretary Christine Staples on the need for an informational hearing about Title IX (starts at 0:10)
- February 11th, 2015: School Board President Judy Appel's comments on sexual harassment
This is not just about BHS. This is about the experiences of all students.
We are dedicated to changing the culture of sexual harassment at Berkeley High, throughout the BUSD (Berkeley Unified School District), and beyond.
In the Media
January 2016: BHS Stop Harassing was honored with a prize and stipend from the Futures Without Violence Respect Challenge Grant http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/ The award will help BHSSH to further our work to surface the untold and unheard stories about students’ experiences with harassment and discrimination at school; and to promote reporting of such incidents to school authorities for their action so that all students may feel safe at school.
10/4/15 - Op-Ed in Berkeleyside: Berkeley School Board Must Take Action on Sexual Harassment.
10/4/15 - Article in Daily Californian: Berkeley High School Implements Sexual Harassment Policy.
10/2/15 - BHS SH adult advisors Rebecca Levenson and Heidi Goldstein write about inadequate handling of sexual harm cases in BUSD (Daily Cal).
10/1/15 - Peggy Scott's op-Ed in Berkeleyside: Berkeley School Board Must Take Action on Sexual Harassment
9/18/15 - Berkeleyside article on BHS SH's work: BHS Stop Harassing takes campaign to Berkeley council
9/17/15 - Daily Californian's coverage of the Berkeley City Council's deferred resolution in support of BHS Stop Harassing
7/22/15 - ERA's Title IX report, "Ending Harassment Now: Keeping Our Kids Safe at School" featuring quotes and pictures of BHS SH students
June 2015: BHS Stop Harassing was recognized at the Equal Rights Advocates Luncheon on June 11, 2015 as a “Champion of Justice” honoree for our work to raise awareness around the culture of sexual harassment and advocacy for student and school staff training on this issue. Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is a national civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls.
6/4/15 - Jweekly.com coverage of BHS Stop Harassing and our work with JYCA
5/7/15 - KPIX TV5 coverage on 6pm and 11pm broadcasts of OCR Investigation at BHS
5/1/15 - Oakland Tribune coverage of the OCR Investigation at BHS
4/8/15 school board meeting where the second reading and subsequent adoption of the CSBA sexual harassment policy was conducted
3/4/15 - Press release by State Senator De Leon about SB 695
- Samantha Kuderna-Reeves' testimony starts at 1:23:45
- Senator Loni Hancock (Berkeley) comments at 1:33:00
- BHS Stop Harassing during Public Comment starts at 2:25:30
12/29/14 - KQED Radio & Blog
12/24/14 - KPFA Radio on BHS Jacket censorship
(starts at 16:33)
(starts at 3:25)
12/2/14 - KPFA Radio – Upfront Show
12/1/14 - Daily Cal
Teach-In November 24 & 25 2014
11/25/14 - Reel Girl's Blog
11/25/14 - ABC TV
11/25/14 - KPFA Radio (starts at 33:15 and goes until 38:15)
11/25/14 - KGO radio
11/25/14 - KCBS radio
11/19/14 - Berkeleyside Online News Outlet