CREDIT: Screenshot via KOCO 5
A group of high schoolers in Norman, Oklahoma plan to silently walk out of class this morning to protest the way that three rape victims have been treated in their community. They will also deliver a list of demands to the Norman High School president — including the implementation of bullying prevention education and the recruitment of a victims’ rights advocate — to pressure the administration to offer more protection to survivors of sexual assault.
Student organizers are standing in solidarity with three rape victims who say they were assaulted by the same male student. Although school administrators did suspend the alleged assailant, activists are concerned about the fact that the teen girls have faced bullying and harassment from other students since coming forward with their stories.
After a video of one of the assaults was posted online and passed around the high school, students labeled one of the victims as a “slut” and a “whore.” She was herself suspended after she punched a student who came up to her and said, “I hear you love being raped in the ass.” Another victim claims a school administrator told her it would be better for her to stay home until tensions “blow over.”
At this point, according to the family members and friends of the three victims, the teens have all left Norman High School because the hostile environment there became too difficult for them to face. “They’re struggling, they’re having a really tough time,” student organizer Danielle Brown said at a recent press conference. “They want to come to school and they can’t.”
Two weeks ago, activists formed the Facebook group Yes All Daughters to push back against what they consider to be the “re-victimization” of the high schoolers in the aftermath of their assaults. The Yes All Daughters group, which ultimately hopes to raise awareness about how to create a safer environment for survivors, is coordinating Monday’s walkout and asking participants to submit photos to their Instagram account using the hashtag #yesalldaughters.
“The idea is that it could be anyone’s daughter, that these girls are all our daughters,” Brown’s aunt, Stacey Wright, explained at the press conference about Monday’s event.
Norman High School officials are aware of the walkout and have asked local police for more security in advance of the event. They have released statements indicating that they are continuing to investigate the allegations of sexual assault and would never punish a student for being the victim of a crime.
It’s not uncommon for graphic photos and videos of sexual assaults to be passed around high school. The bullying and harassment that rape victims often encounter from their peers can have devastating consequences. Over the past year, two young victims — Audrie Pott and Rehteah Parsons — committed suicide after photos of their assaults were made public. High schoolers are increasingly pushing back against the pervasive rape culture that normalizes this type of response to survivors.