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Urging change, Minnesota students share harrowing stories of sexual harassment, racism

9December 2021

Students brought their stories of sexual harassment and racist bullying Thursday night to Minnesota leaders, who promised them they were heard.

The students described groups of bullies whom they say have not been dealt with properly and who continue with their behavior, at a forum held at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Bloomington. The harrowing stories were heard by hundreds of people, including Minnesota politicians.

The event, hosted by the Minnesota Justice Coalition, was prompted by a disturbing video posted by a Prior Lake High School student depicting another student bullying her and using a racial slur several times.

Soon after the video surfaced on social media, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community condemned it and said one of the girls in the video was a member of its community.

The video also prompted students in similar situations to gather and share their experiences, asking those in power to do more to stop bullying.

At the forum, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan applauded the Prior Lake High School student for sharing her experience, calling her a courageous young woman. Flanagan, who is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and Minnesota’s first Native statewide elected official, said anti-Blackness exists in Native American and other nonwhite communities and that nuance needs to be brought to the conversation.

“We have to commit to doing everything we can in our power to ensure that no child in this state has to go to school and experience harm,” she said.

Prior Lake High School student My’a Calvert, 16, said her experiences gave her fear, anxiety and a severe eating disorder.

“Anonymous pages have been made up about me, calling me the N-word and telling me to take my life because I’m Black,” My’a said, adding other students threw objects at her because she was friends with a white boy. “I never felt safe at school after these events.”

V Wenham from Edina High School said they were concerned when boys posted photos of fellow students wearing bikinis on a pornography website with corresponding names and phone numbers.

“The whole school knew about this, and every single girl I know was checking the website, terrified to see if their pictures were on there,” Wenham said. “It was terrifying.”

Johnathon McClellan, president of the Minnesota Justice Coalition, pushed for politicians to support proposals drafted by the organization to curb bullying in Minnesota schools.

The proposals include investment in training in schools to develop best practices in dealing with racism, hate and sexual harassment, McClellan said. It also includes a proposal to make it a crime to post the address of a child online.

The Prior Lake student who was the target of the bullying video was slated to speak at the event, but instead went to Thursday’s Vikings-Steelers game, where Vikings and NFL officials surprised her with free tickets to Super Bowl LVI.

This post was originally published on this site

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