In February, staff from the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence met with groups of students in focus groups to evaluate the frequency, form, and impact of bias and harassment at our school. Students described issues of harassment regarding gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, special education, and body size. These same categories and levels of harassment exist in most Maine schools and across the nation.

Students also wrote and talked about numerous incidents in which students and faculty acted to stop bias and harassment or reached out to targeted students. Faculty met with the CPHV facilitators in early March to learn the results of the report and to address ways in which staff can respond to incidents of bias and harassment. On March 14, freshman and sophomore students participated in workshop sessions with Tai Jack from CPHV.

The OHHS Civil Rights Team and the student leadership teams for the freshman and sophomore classes were trained by Tai to serve as small group facilitators for these two workshops. In small groups, students discussed what they learned from Tai’s speech, shared their own perspectives on bias and harassment at OHHS, and charted lists of strategies to implement in order to make our school as safe and respectful as possible. The Civil Rights Team has plans to follow up this workshop with a school-wide poster campaign.

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