Getting “Crossing the Line” into Good HandsFebruary 06, 2012
AAUW did a fabulous job publicizing the new research report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School. Upon its release, the news hit TV, magazines, newspapers, and social media around the country.
Now that the initial excitement has faded but the importance of the report remains, how can we get this information into the hands of the people who need it the most — the general public and the individuals responsible for education in our states, parishes, and counties?
As president of the AAUW Covington-Mandeville (LA) Branch, I decided to do my part to spread the word. I’ve been sending personalized e-mails to all education officials at the state, regional, and local levels with a link to the free PDF on AAUW’s website. After finding contact information online, I individually address each e-mail and personalize a form letter that I drafted. I also call when I can’t find an e-mail address for a contact.
My effort is paying off. I’m getting “read receipts” from most of my e-mails, and I’m quickly responding to all officials who reply to me. Additionally, this preliminary e-mail contact makes it easier to ask for speaker commitments for our branch’s future efforts.
Another way that the Covington-Mandeville Branch is spreading the word is by hosting a panel discussion about harassment and bullying in schools at the St. Tammany Parish Council chambers on Thursday, February 23, at 6:30 p.m. Eileen deHaro, an AAUW Leadership Corps member, branch member, and branch officer, will moderate and present the report’s findings. We are finalizing arrangements to include speakers from the Louisiana Department of Education, the Louisiana Legislature, Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, our parish school board, and the Positive Behavior Support and Intervention Program at Mandeville Middle School.
We hope that panelists can reassure the public that sexual harassment and bullying are serious concerns being addressed locally and statewide to identify and deal with any threats to our students. Most of all, we want to know that all students are regularly reminded of reporting procedures and that zero-tolerance policies are actively followed in all of our schools.
The effort to address harassment should be important nationwide, but it is especially important to us in Louisiana because, frankly, our members are tired of our state constantly ranking poorly in almost all important state comparisons. We don’t want Louisiana to also fail our students because of bullying, sexual harassment, and dangerous school environments.
Our branch has challenged our AAUW state board and all other Louisiana branches to send e-mails to their local school board members. I now challenge all AAUW members around the country to do the same. Please work as a team to get this report into good hands.
Editor’s note: Download the new Crossing the Line Program in a Box for instructions for hosting a panel or giving a presentation on the report in your community. You can also find letters from our executive director that you can print and send with hard copies of the report.
This post was written by Jean Lotz, chair for the AAUW Social Media Committee and president of the AAUW Covington Mandeville (LA) Branch.