By Maya Gomez
This past Sun., Nov. 7, Saratoga High School’s Culture of Consent Task Force, a group led by SHS staff and students passionate about consent education, organized a rally in the school’s quad to bring awarness to sexual assault and harassment. Similar to the stand for solidarity march organized by the LGHS’s From Survivors For Survivors team this past summer, the rally drew in a crowd filled with students, staff, and family members from the Los Gatos Saratoga Union High School District in support of survivors.
The first speaker of the event was LGHS junior Katy Hawk, president of the Sexual Violence Free LGHS club. During an interview, Hawk discussed that their involvment in sexual assault and harassment awarness began in middle school. “When I was younger, one of my best friends was in a tough situation. She had been sexually assaulted numerous times.” Hawk added, “I was really close with her, and wanted to do everything I could to help her. To this day, we are still very close, and seeing how it affected her made me want to do something about it.”
During their speech at the rally, Hawk revealed that they were assaulted while in a relationship during freshman year. They recalled that during a specific instance they found the courage to say no, but the perpetrator ignored them. “No means no, but to him, no meant nothing.” Hawk ended their speech by concluding that they will “never stop saying no,” sending support to survivors at both LGHS and SHS.
Tara Natarajan, a sophomore at SHS shared that before moving to the states, she was assaulted by an employee at her elementary school, stating that “It lasted five minutes, but it felt like hours in [his] hands.” After her move to the U.S. Natarajan expressed that her faith in our justice system was “shattered” after discovering that, despite countless cases going to court and survivors coming forward, little has changed.
Another SHS student, Allison Tan, read an original piece entitled “Stupid Five Senses,” in which she discussed specific instances of sexual assault and harassment using the five senses. In reference to a game commonly referred to as the firetruck game, where someone moves their hand up your leg and only stops when you say the word “red,” Tan stated, “when I said stop, he simply said that firetrucks don’t stop for a red light.” Concluding her speech, she conveyed, “Survivors are strong because they have to be, not because they want to be.”
SHS students Mason Wang and Anand Agrawal also spoke at the rally, sharing insensitive and offensive things they have heard regarding sexaul violence at Saratoga High School, including comments such as “I’m going to Title Nine you.” The two expressed their frustration with the behavior of many of the men at their school. “Other people’s survivor stories are not ours to laugh about or invalidate.”
To all speakers at the rally, in addition to the other speakers not mentioned in the article including Leila Carlin, LGHS student, Jasmine Ispasoiu, SHS student, and Heather Hennessy, thank you for sharing your story with us.