High school students’ silent rape protest is making a lot of important noise

In the midst of the shocking sexual assault allegations which recently prompted the University of Virginia to suspend its fraternities, the conversations about (and protests against) rape culture have become even more pervasive and important.

One of the more recent groups to add their voices to the discussion is the “Yes All Daughters” movement, started by high schoolers in Norman, Oklahoma. The group of students walked out of class in silent protest on Monday. Their actions were sparked by Norman High School’s lack of response to recent rape allegations and bullying. Three girls have reportedly been bullied out of the school because they were victims of alleged sex crimes perpetrated by the same boy.

The details of the individual sexual assaults, which can be found on Jezebel, are heartbreaking and disturbing. A recording of the accused male student bragging about one of the rapes has been leaked, and there are claims that the alleged victim was video-taped during the assault. The boy was kicked out of school shortly following the horrific incident, but the expulsion was a penalty for posting the video on Facebook, rather than committing sexual assault. Four days later, he reportedly raped a 14-year-old.

A third girl came forward and said that she was raped by the same male student in a bathroom stall back in January

The girls were harassed by their fellow students almost immediately upon their return to school. “One of the girls, the very first day that she came back to school, didn’t make it in the front doors before she was attacked by a mob of students who bullied her,” said Stacey Wright, one of the spokespeople for the “Yes All Daughters” protest. Allegedly, the school administrators did nothing to stop these vicious verbal attacks. 

The “Yes All Daughters” group, as the name implies, hopes to raise awareness for the importance of equal rights for women of all ages by protesting the Norman administration’s shortcomings in these matters. “How can we fight for justice for grown women without fighting for justice for little girls?,” asked Norman parent Kimberly Wiser.

The school administrators are adamant that they have taken all the necessary actions in this matter. In a letter to school parents, principal Scott Beck asserted that the school has taken “the strongest disciplinary action against the alleged assailant permitted by Oklahoma law” and that “despite what rumors on social media may indicate, we have not – and would never – discipline a victim for being a victim.”

The boy who has been accused of these crimes has not been arrested or formally charged by the police, who claim that the investigation is still ongoing.

The group formally submitted a list of demands to the school on Monday, which detail the rights that should be granted to the victims of the sexual crimes. According to News Channel 4, some of the requested changes are already in the works.

Though the circumstances around this peaceful protest are despicable and saddening, the fact that these high school students banded together to speak out against what was happening to their fellow students is extremely heartening. It’s exhilarating to see these young women acknowledge at an early age that they have a voice which can be used for the greater good. Even school officials applauded the group for conducting the protest in an upstanding and mature manner. Says Shelly Hickman, of Norman Public Schools, “Wherever a student body wants to stand up in a unified way and say we have zero tolerance for sexual assault and bullying, that can only be seen as a great thing.”

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