Girard students protesting alleged sexual harassment
Some female students at Girard Junior and Senior High School are voicing their concerns against sexual harassment they say they've had to endure.
"We're taught that school is one of the safest places for us, and when this kind of thing happens, it makes people feel discouraged," said Lillyana Thomasik, a student at Girard Junior and Senior High. "I have seen multiple times in school where a specific individual will touch people in places they are not comfortable with them touching without them even knowing this individual," she said.
They say the behaviour ranges from things like smacks on the behind to groping but they say it goes beyond individual acts.
These students believe there's a culture that sees these things as acceptable and sexual violence advocates say that's the larger issue.
"It's taking someone's forms of their human rights away from them and so, it's such an important thing for girls and men alike to just stand together," said Jacie Womack, sexual violence survivor advocate for YWCA Dayton. "If we portray that we are leaders, we're portraying that we are coming together and standing together, we're showing that we're not gonna take any of this," she said.
Their way of doing that begins with a peaceful protest of them wearing shirts with white hand prints that read, "HANDS OFF." It's the message they want to send to young men and a cry for help to the school administration.
"I want people to prevent this sexual harassment from happening before it even happens instead of just punishing when it does happen," said Thomasik. "I don't want it to happen at all," she said.
"It's upsetting because people need to feel comfortable especially being in school because we're forced to come here," said Ryleigh Roman, another student at Girard Junior and Senior High.
21 News reached out to Superintendent Bryan O'Hara who declined to speak on camera but sent this statement:
"With all situations, this one included, our administrators promptly respond by listening to our students' concerns - related to the health and safety of our students and staff, and providing possible solutions through current and/or future resources. As with any situation that's brought to the attention of the district, we procedurally follow our code of conduct, board of education policies, Title IX regulations, and student due process rights as required by law. These inquiries can vary in length. Any disciplinary action that's issued as the result of a completed investigation remains confidential under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. "Keeping all of our students' needs in mind, Girard City Schools has put several measures in place to assist students in all areas of their lives, socially, emotionally, and physically as well as academically." In addition to our administrators and teachers, we have five full-time school counselors, two full-time school social workers, and two full-time psychologists on staff to support the social and emotional well-being of all students. If students or parents have any questions about how matters or concerns are handled, they are welcome to reach out to us."