Oklahoma teens walk out of class Monday to protest victim-blaming
Hundreds of students, community members gathered outside Norman High School
Protest stems from allegations from students who say same person raped them
Teens told Jezebel that school failed to adequately deal with their rape claims
Hundreds of students walked out of their Oklahoma high school Monday to protest the school’s response to the alleged bullying of three classmates who say they were raped by the same person.
The students were greeted outside Norman High School by parents and other members of the community who had gathered to support them, junior Sophia Babb told CNN. Together, the crowd waved signs and chanted “No justice, no class” and “No more bullying.”
Their message to the world: it could be your daughter.
The protest stemmed from allegations by three female Norman High School students who say classmates bullied them mercilessly after they were raped in separate instances by the same person. The teens and their families say school administrators failed to take adequate action after they reported the rapes and bullying.
Their story spread across social media after Jezebel published a detailed account Friday.
No one has been arrested or charged yet, Norman Police Department Captain Tom Easley told CNN. An investigation began a month ago, and no details will be released until it concludes. A Norman High School spokesperson had not returned CNN’s request for comment by publication time.
In a letter to the school community, Norman Public Schools Superintendent Joe Siano encouraged parents to talk to their children about alternatives to the walkout, such as wearing stickers and ribbons provided by the school “in symbolic support.”
He also said the school was enlarging a task force to study the implementation of a “targeted, research-based sexual assault curriculum for students,” and that the school will continue to respond quickly to reports of sexual assault and bullying.
The three teens told Jezebel that they stopped attending classes and left school voluntarily after the teasing became unbearable. Friends of the teens started a Facebook page, YES ALL Daughters, two weeks ago to show support for them, Babb said. They were fed up with classmates blaming the teens for the attacks, she said.
“You could see it all over social media, the victim blaming,” Babb said in a phone call after the protest.
The page drew nearly 10,000 likes in two weeks. With the help of their mothers and relatives, they organized Monday’s protest.
“After hearing the story we felt compelled to help the kids do something,” said Stacie Wright, whose niece started the Facebook page.
The group posted a long list of “Protest Do(s) and Don’t(s)” on its Facebook page to make the event a peaceful one: DO Be Peaceful, Law-Abiding Citizens that do not disturb local businesses, DO Be a Good Neighbor; Do NOT Respond to any negativity, Do NOT Use profanity.
The Daily Oklahoman reported the crowd of protesters Monday was in the hundreds. But organizers estimated that 1,500 attended the protest outside the school, which has an enrollment of about 1,800 students.
“It shows that students won’t put up with this harassment and bullying,” Babb said. “We stand in solidarity with all victims and we want to show that we support them.”