What is sexual harassment?

Grace Sauers, Editor-in-Chief/Production Manager

Definition: Sexual Harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with your right to receive an equal educational opportunity.

Both the Federal courts and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the United States Department of Education (ED) recognize two forms of sexual harassment in education.

Type One: The first form is quid pro quo harassment. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a school employee explicitly or implicitly guides a student’s participation in an educational program or activity or bases an educational decision on the student’s submission to unwelcome sexual advances or other verbal, non verbal, or physical conduct. Quid pro quo harassment is equally unlawful whether the student resists or submits and thus avoids the threatened harm.

Type Two: The second recognized form of sexual harassment in schools is hostile-environment harassment. Hostile-environment harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, non verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature by an employee, another student, or a third party. This form of harassment requires that the harassing behavior be sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive so as to limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity, or to create a hostile or abusive educational environment.

What student actions constitute sexual harassment?

  • Using cell phones or the internet to target students by calling them sexually charged epithets like “slut” or “whore”
  • Spreading sexual rumors
  • Rating students on sexual activity or performance
  • Disseminating compromising photographs or videos of a student
  • Circulating, showing, or creating emails, text messages, or websites of a sexual nature