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Friday, April 19, 2024
Guest Editorial: Student sexual assault rally a chance for voices to be heard

Maddy Gordon
Special to The Lake Report

Most high school students today either have a story or know someone who has a story.

For years, students have been ignored, disregarded and ostracized for speaking up about their experiences with sexual assault. Despite being promised support, victims continuously have been silenced.

The District School Board of Niagara’s curriculum includes nothing about consent and sexual assault — something that desperately needs to change.

Rape culture is scarily normalized in teenage culture and is only getting worse with the ongoing lack of consent education. And although this has been a problem for decades, only in recent years has the traditionally taboo topic of sexual assault begun to be brought to light.

Taking part in one of the recent Niagara “Walkout4C” protests allowed me to really understand how important this issue is.

As we calmly stood our ground together as a group to peacefully spread our message, some strangers drove by yelling obscenities at us.

One man, who appeared to be in his 30s or 40s, drove by and yelled something along the lines of “feminism sucks.” About 10 minutes later he returned wearing a MAGA hat and carrying a megaphone – and told us we looked “hot” in our school uniforms.

The protest only lasted about two hours but was very enlightening.

If anything, some of the responses we had from not only passersby but our own peers only further proved why consent education is needed — there is no valid reason for anyone to feel threatened by victims speaking up about their own experiences.

Thanks to the bravery and activism of students, particularly those of groups like “Project Breakaway,” a student-led activist group fighting for consent education, conversations have been brought to the table that have been long overdue. What is sexual assault? How can I recognize it? How am I contributing to the normalization of rape culture? What can I do to help?

It is crucial to expose students of all ages to these topics because without real consent education, we will continue to lack any real change in the matter at hand.

Talking about sexual assault is not an easy conversation for anyone to have, but is nonetheless incredibly necessary for growth – and change – to happen.

Maddy Gordon is a student at Eden High School and a reporting intern at The Lake Report.

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