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RightsED: Tackling sexual harassment - Activity sheet: Comments in the schoolyard

Tackling sexual harassment

 

Activity sheet: Comments in the schoolyard

Let's start thinking about your school. Imagine that you heard the comments and saw
the incidents on the next page. Would they be examples of 'sexual harassment'?

#

Is this an example of sexual harassment?

Yes

No

Don't know

1.

"What they'd do was get a ruler and try to stick it up your skirt. They'd do
it all the time. It was so bad that I was begging the teachers to let me go to
another class."

 

 

 

2.

"I was sitting in the classroom and this boy walked behind me and shouted
right in my ear: 'UGLY'. Then he kept on walking.
I was so shocked. I left the room, I couldn't cope. At that age you're going
through a vulnerable period - so that just crushed me."

 

 

 

3.

A girl approaches a group of girls. They turn away and ignore her, and exclude
her from their group, saying "We don't want a lezzo like you with us".

 

 

 

4.

A boy calls a girl over to his locker. He shows her a picture of a naked
woman. The girl looks and then walks quickly away.

 

 

 

5.

A boy and a girl are hugging each other. She laughs and tells him that he's
only after one thing. He laughs, pulls her closer and kisses her. It is clear
that they like each other.

 

 

 

6.

A boy bumps into a girl and then brushes against her front, but it seems to be
deliberate because he's done it to her before. She reacts sharply and pushes him
away. He laughs and says, "It was only an accident"!

 

 

 

7.

"Look, we have this teacher and he doesn't really do anything, it's just the
way he always comes up behind us girls, and looks over our shoulders while we are
working. Sometimes he seems to look down the front of our dresses. It's really
creepy."

 

 

 

8.

"I usually get a hard time about hanging out with the girls in class and at
lunchtime. Because I spend time with girls, I get called a faggot - which makes
me feel pretty bad, like I'm not a real guy."

 

 

 

9.

"As a young female teacher in a boys' school, they often try to provoke me by
asking if I was out last night, did I get home, do I have a boyfriend. It's
juvenile and I ignore it."

 

 

 

#

Is this an example of sexual harassment?

Yes

No

Don't know

10.

"Look at Jenny - the way she wears those short skirts and tight tops. She's
just asking for comments - right Tim? Well, if she's advertising, I may as well
take a visit to the shop. See ya later."

 

 

 

11.

"I was new at the school. Now I'm not a big sports jock or anything, so on the
very first day these feral girls grabbed me, started calling me 'gay' and
'queer'. They dacked me in the schoolyard and then ran away. Kids everywhere were
laughing at me."

 

 

 

12.

A group of students graffiti comments in the boys' toilet about another girl
and her sexual experiences.

 

 

 

 

How did you go with these comments and situations?

You have probably decided that some were definitely sexual harassment, some were
more general bullying and some you could not be sure about.

To decide if your answers to the previous pages are accurate, you need to know the
definition of sexual harassment.

The Sex Discrimination Act gives the following definition:

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual behaviour which makes a person feel
offended, humiliated or intimidated and that this reaction could reasonably have been
expected in the circumstances. It has nothing to do with mutual attraction or
friendship.

Unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour can include:

  • unwelcome touching
  • staring or leering
  • suggestive comments or jokes
  • sexually explicit pictures, posters, screensavers, calendars
  • unwanted invitations to go out on a date
  • requests for sex
  • intrusive questions about a person's private life or body
  • insults, name-calling or taunts based on your sex
  • derogatory graffiti
  • sexually explicit e-mails, text messages, etc.

Discuss your answers with your classmates.

Make some notes about your conclusions for future reference below.


Answer sheet

Comments in the schoolyard

How do your answers compare? You can check your answers with those of the Australian
Human Rights Commission.

#

Answers to 'Comments in the schoolyard'

1.

Yes - this is sexual harassment. The overtly sexual nature of what the boys
were doing and saying wasn't welcomed by the girl and made her feel very hurt and
upset.

2.

This probably isn't sexual harassment - but it is certainly a pretty nasty
form of bullying. Shouting something insulting like 'ugly' is done to
deliberately hurt and humiliate someone else.

3.

It's not clear if this is sexual harassment - but it is a form of bullying and
homophobia. There are laws to protect people from homophobic behaviour in every
Australian state and territory.

4.

This could be sexual harassment - it depends on how the girl feels about
seeing the pictures. It would be harassment if she didn't want to look at those
sort pictures or she felt offended by them.

5.

This would not be sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not about
friendships, mutual attraction or consensual relationships like
boyfriend-girlfriend.

6.

This is likely to be sexual harassment as it doesn't seem like it was an
accident. Being too familiar with someone, such as brushing up against them, is
harassment when it's unwelcome behaviour.

7.

This could be sexual harassment. Staring or leering can make someone feel just
as uncomfortable as unwelcome touching or explicit jokes.

8.

This may be a form of sexual harassment covered by a state law. There are laws
to protect people from homophobic behaviour in every Australian state and
territory.

9.

This is sexual harassment. It's not acceptable to ask people lots of questions
about their personal life if it makes them feel awkward and uncomfortable.

10.

This could be sexual harassment - it depends on who was saying it, who was
listening and how they felt when they heard those comments.

11.

This looks like sexual harassment that could be covered by state laws. Girls
can sexually harass boys just as boys can harass girls. In this case, they
embarrassed and humiliated him in front of the other students.

12.

Writing explicit comments that are offensive or humiliating can be sexual
harassment, even if the girl doesn't see the graffiti.