Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gender Stereotypes in Teacher Sexual Harassment Cases

The AP reported last week on the different gender stereotypes that kick in when a male student reports teacher sexual harassment or sexual abuse, versus a female student doing the same thing.

The AP discusses the disturbing reaction by most media -- when a girl reports abuse by a male teacher, sometimes the girl is harassed or told to keep quiet, but oftentimes the teacher is vilified and rightly condemned by the media. When a boy reports the same abuse by a female teacher, oftentimes the media laughs it off, discussing his actions as part of a "sexual conquest" that ought to be celebrated, not complained of.

Public schools are getting better about making sure their sexual harassment policies protect both male and female students (they have to be, with the possibility of Title IX liability), but that doesn't mean that the media or our society has let go of the gender stereotypes that underpin these differing reactions to an extremely serious problem.

No comments: