Re-educating the Locker Room
Sexism & Activism in American Schools
Our schools are microcosms of our world and therefore exhibit many of the same issues we find in Hollywood and in workplace environments. This playlist uses recent current events to bring to light how sexism, misogyny and discrimination play out in school environments. From dress codes to conversations around consent, we see outdated ideals continue to be perpetuated as well as seeing how students and their supporters have engaged in the fight to create safe, equitable spaces for girls.
We have important matters to discuss. Collarbones are keeping young men from succeeding in schools across America. Journalist Liz Plank does her own experiment to see just how detrimental clavicles can be in her investigation into how school dress codes not only unfairly target young women but suggest that young men are incapable of learning without a dress code in place. Regardless of how you feel about dress codes, it’s important to question who it actually serves and how it affects how young people see themselves and each other, so that we can begin to make our schools more equitable for everyone.
Supporters of school dress codes claim that these regulations prevent distractions and foster a professional environment. This article explains how the “solution” might actually be indicative of a larger problem, as strict dress codes are disproportionately enforced against girls, especially young women of color. The article mentions a few anecdotal accounts of dress code controversies. If you’re interested in sharing more information about those instances, we have provided links to related media below.
Dress Code Violators Video (Marcus High School, Texas)
A Principal Apologizes (Oakville High School, St. Louis, Missouri)
Problematic Hair Policy (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Girls win lawsuit over being forced to wear skirts to ‘preserve chivalry’ at North Carolina school | The Independent
While some schools are trying to keep girls covered up, Charter Day School in North Carolina’s controversial dress code left many female students overexposed. This article explains how their female students won a lawsuit against the school so that students would no longer be required to wear skirts. As students read the article, they will be prompted to synthesize the information to answer questions about gender roles, chivalry and traditional values to evaluate the school’s intentions and the results of their dress requirements.
This article discusses what happened when a group of high school boys decided to rate 18 girls on the basis of their looks at a high school in Maryland. When the girls discovered the list, they responded in a way that has the potential to change their school’s culture for generations to come. After reading the article, students can reflect by answering the 5 questions provided.
Misogyny and rape culture don’t just exist in Hollywood and the workplace. Another critical topic being explored in schools today is consent and sexual assault. This video is features a high school with an initiative that they hope will reframe how their students of all sexes think about consent. It includes discussions of toxic masculinity and the pressures both girls and boys feel when it comes to sex.
We think that it’s important for young people to not only know what consent is but to know what it looks and feels like in real-life situations and to have appropriate strategies for providing and obtaining consent. This article looks beyond “no means no” and provides many approaches for negotiating enthusiastic consent.
“The more you act like a lady, the more he’ll act like a gentleman.” Why might a school put this quote from a former madam of an escort service on a wall in their hallway? This worksheet shares two sides of the argument and then asks for students to come up with a suitable replacement for this quote that speaks to respect and accountability.
In subtle ways, the resources in this playlist have been inviting students to not only identify sexism and how it plays out in schools but to find ways to address them and see how other students in their families worked to make changes. This lesson plan walks them through this process in a more explicit way, showing students how to identify the ways that sexism manifests in many settings and then develop their own plans of action against biased practices, institutions and policies.
Eboni has extensive experience in curriculum development, with a focus on culturally-responsive and arts-based approaches. Having spent years creating academic content and providing professional development to teachers, she now curates themed playlists meant to provide educators with valuable, time-saving resources.
Common Core Standards
9-10.RI.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
11-12.RI.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
11-12.RI.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
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