As a response to some emails sent concerning the interview posted by El Gato last week about the Stand for Survivors Rally at LGHS. First and foremost, I do Stand with the Survivors, and have worked my whole career to make sure that victims were supported and violators were held accountable. I was supportive of the rally held at LGHS and worked with the organizers to ensure that the event was successful and I remain completely supportive of the cause.
With regard to the Athletic Code of Conduct, my intent was to express that while the current Code does not explicitly identify sexual harassment and assault, it does include a rule that states that student athletes must “Abide by school, league, section, and CIF rules.” Sexual harassment and assault are clearly violations of school rules and therefore would be a violation of the Code. Our school district is engaged in a process of reviewing policies and procedures, including codes of conduct, to make sure that issues such as sexual harassment/assault, discrimination, and bullying are clearly and appropriately addressed. This process very well may result in a specific reference to sexual harassment/assault in a revised Code, but this will be determined by the group tasked with review – this group will include students, staff, and parents. Regardless of this outcome, I do believe that our current Code does allow us to discipline athletes who engage in egregious behaviors such as sexual harassment and/or assault.
The pending changes to Title IX are out of our control as a school as these are changes imposed by the federal government. This month our district will train all administrators on these changes and will also educate our students and staff about sexual harassment and assault early in the school year. Ultimately, regardless of our personal feelings about the pending changes, we are required to abide by the new regulations and we will adapt our policies and practices as the regulations evolve over time to remain in compliance and, most importantly, to ensure that the rights of all of our students are protected.
During the interview, I was asked if I would want another administrator to assist with sexual assault and/or Title IX issues and I said no. In hindsight, I believe that I should have referred this question to our District Office staff as they are considering the addition of such a position at the district level. My response to the question focused on how I believe we can create additional support structures at LGHS to assist students in crisis. Peer Counselors, adequately trained and supported, can have a very positive impact on large comprehensive schools and can be instrumental in alerting school staff to students in crisis and I believe that they can help students come forward to talk about abuse, sexual assault, mental health, and so much more. I do understand how my answer to the question in the interview appeared as if I am opposed to a new position to address these issues and that I unintentionally suggested that we should establish peer support groups instead. That is not my belief – I do not see these as either/or options, but rather as a potential And. I do believe that we need to dedicate leadership to addressing issues such as sexual harassment/assault, discrimination, and bullying AND I believe that peer support can be an additional effective strategy in combating these and other issues that students face.
Finally, I’d like to address my comments regarding the “culture of rape.” I did not intend in any way to deny that sexual harassment and/or assault is a prevalent issue faced by many young women who attend LGHS. My intent was to say that these are issues that exist at the local, national, and global levels and that our school is a reflection of the social issues we face in our larger society. As I did in the interview, I fully acknowledge that these are issues that we need to address at all levels, including at our school. I am also very concerned that we not paint an entire school or whole groups of students, such as all athletes, with a broad brush. To do so taints the many upstanding young women and men and staff members who do not accept or perpetuate the inappropriate behavior of some.
Do I believe that we all live in a culture that includes misogyny and objectifies and discriminates against women? Yes, I do. I stand strongly for Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement. I drove eight hours to get to LGHS for the Stand for Survivors Rally so that I could publicly demonstrate my support for survivors of sexual assault and harassment. I have a wife, a daughter, and a granddaughter who all deserve a world free from the fear of sexual assault and exploitation. I believe that LGHS has the will to be better because of the student and staff leaders we have. It’s my commitment to support them to make the changes necessary to combat all the ways our society discriminates and violates others.
Wildcats are ALL IN – TOGETHER! as we fight to change the world we live in. Thank you for your support.
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