After three days of circulating of Trump’s boasts of sexual assault, pundits weighing in, Facebook friends repudiating or uplifting the comments, and online memes and talk shows making light of an atrocity, kids across the country return to school today.
Students have literally heard the phrase “grab them by the pussy” normalized in the news cycles and quotes on various networks. They’ve heard that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” They heard Trump say, “I don’t even wait.” These are comments that were repeated and discussed over and over.
While we should be vilifying an awful man who brags about doing deplorable things, what we haven’t talked about is how this plays out in schools and classrooms. School discourse for young people means that some classrooms will debate this (but really – what is to be debated?). However, too many classrooms will say their kids aren’t prepared to handle the mature topic of sexual assault. They will reinforce the false argument that this is boys being boys. Too many classrooms will be focused on curricular pacing and classroom content; they don’t have time to talk about responsibility and what rape culture means.
The omission of dialogue about the tape and its implications is a lesson for young people. We don’t talk about it, it becomes normalized, lessons learned that yes such grabbing is okay if you’re a star. Boys and girls alike hear it’s okay for boys not to wait. It is not okay to not denounce this and break it down with students of all ages.
Media moves fast. Kids aren’t dummies. Don’t let the energy surrounding the election get in the way of the needed civic dialogue in classrooms today.