School of Education: Legal Seminar Videos

Sexual Harrassment: Examples



Dr. Erma Jean Sims,
Sonoma State University

Some typical examples of Sexual Harassment is the sexually oriented gesture and I'm sure you can think of a few. Especially amongst young children how they communicate their desires through gestures. Sexual jokes are also illegal and remarks that are unwanted; the person doesn't want them. What offends one person may not in fact offend another. But if you are offended and it's unwanted, then its sexual harassment. An example would be a peer who repeatedly tells sexual jokes or posts pornographic photos either in the classroom or it may be a screen saver on their computer, or makes unwelcome sexual innuendos to another peer about you. Repeated and unwanted sexual advances are illegal and they are sexual harassment. Also take notice that we have added touching or any unwanted bodily contact. So even if the person touches your clothing not actually your physical body, that is enough for sexual harassment, and then any kind of physical intimidation. I'm going to do this to you, if you don't accept my advances. Physical intimidation happens more often with a person in position of authority over you. One who uses his or her power to coerce another person to accept these unwanted advances and sexual tension. Examples of other types of conduct that have been prohibited in many of the school districts and you'll want to find out if your school district has additional actions or behaviors that they consider sexual harassment. I've included some that I've seen in district policies here: Unwelcome leering, sexual flirtation or propositions would be sexual harassment. Unwelcome sexual slurs; referring to a female person as a B****, I won't say the whole word, but I'm sure you know what it is. Any epithets or threats, verbal abuse, derogatory comments or sexually degrading descriptions. You know Susie wears a size ZZZ cup bra, would give us some idea that this description is sexual in nature and also degrading. Graphic verbal comments about an individual's body or overly personal conversation. We talked earlier about sexual jokes, stories, drawings, pictures or gestures. Spreading sexual rumors about another person could be considered sexual harassment. Frequently students will say, oh I was just teasing, or administrators will brush it off by simply saying, "boys will be boys". Teasing or sexual remarks about a student enrolled in a predominantly single sex class; oh you're just in that class because everybody in there is a group of gay guys or lesbian women, which certainly qualify. Purposely limiting a student's access to educational tools based on their sex or based on a refusal to submit to these unwanted sexual advances. Blocking or corning, blocking a normal flow of traffic or that person's normal movement in the classroom or in a school would be considered sexual harassment. Displaying sexually suggested objects, would also, in an educational setting, bring something to school that has sexual connotations attached to it. In an act of retaliation against an individual, reports of violation of this districts policies, sexual harassment policy or who participates in an investigation. Maybe the sexual harassment was not directed at you personally, but you observed it as a teacher, you have a responsibility to report back to your site administrator, your principal, or your vice principal. And in some schools when both of those individuals are out of the building the teacher left in charge would be the person to tell this information to. And there can be no retaliation against you for making a report around this behavior.

CREDITS: Instruction and Content by Dr. Erma Jean Sims, Sonoma State University. Videography and Technical support by Mark Niemann, Sonoma State University