Letter: SSHS staff who spoke at board meeting belittled pain of victims by making themselves the victims | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: SSHS staff who spoke at board meeting belittled pain of victims by making themselves the victims

I am writing on behalf of the victims and families affected by sexual misconduct at the Steamboat Springs High School in the context of the school board meeting held on April 16. The meeting was to discuss recommendations made by Quimby and Associates following an investigation regarding the culture at the high school.

This intention was to validate victims and demonstrate that something is finally being done about their concerns. Instead of letting victims have space to heal, 13 high school staff members asked for an apology from the public and the school board, because they felt their reputations had been dragged through the mud. They belittled the pain of actual victims by making themselves out to be the victims instead.

I have never been more disappointed and truly disgusted by the high school staff who spoke out than I was during this meeting. I would like to ask those teachers — can you imagine how embarrassing it is to go to school with the person who sexually assaulted you? Can you imagine how embarrassing it is, as a student, to have to wait four years for something to be done about our school’s negative culture? Can you for one second imagine how your words affected those who needed your support the most — the students you are supposed to protect?

Instead of bringing victims closure, they made the meeting about them.

If anyone in this community is looking for a more crystal clear example of the environment surrounding sexual assault and sexual misconduct at the high school, I would urge you to watch the school board meeting from April 16. The meeting, meant to address the sexual misconduct report, turned into a demand for an apology to teachers and the principal and resulted in public shaming of victims because they stood up, spoke out and asked for change.

I would personally like to thank the Steamboat Springs School Board and especially Dr. Meeks for taking this seriously and working proactively to make changes to the culture and policies surrounding sexual misconduct and assault. If anyone was wondering why the students at the high school do not feel comfortable reporting sexual misconduct to the faculty, the meeting makes it clear.

Changes needed to happen for more than four years now. Let’s start to focus on change instead of trying to perpetuate the culture that brought us to this point in the first place.

Leona Thurston
Steamboat Springs

Editor’s note: Two other students helped write this letter but did not want to include their names for fear of retaliation.

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