7 Tips for Reporting Sexual Harassment in Dual Language Programs

Sexual harassment is becoming an all-too-common occurrence in the workplace, even in teaching environments including bilingual or dual language schools. You may become a target of unwanted advances and attention from your coworkers and knowing how to react and handle this can help in coming out of this situation. In ideal cases, you can talk to the harasser to make it clear that you do not appreciate their comments, actions and you want them to stop. Some harassers can take a hint and desist from further harassment. However, some may also retaliate, and the harassment could continue. At this point, taking the next steps such as documenting the incidents and reporting, should be done.

If you have tried to talk to the person, but the attacks have continued unabated, here are the next steps you can take.

Tip 1: Know what to report in your Dual Language Program.

Many dual language teachers fail to report instances of sexual harassment because they are unsure if the acts constitute harassment. If you are unsure, consult your school’s policy handbook to see if it has a definition of sexual harassment. It is important to note that any unwelcome behavior from a superior that is made with sexual undertones, whether these are words or gestures that make you uncomfortable, can be regarded as sexual harassment.

Photo: 7 Tips for Reporting Sexual Harassment in Dual Language Programs

Tip 2: Document everything.

Nothing is too small when it comes to sexual harassment. If you feel that the actions of a superior are becoming too forward and are making you uncomfortable, write these actions down. Write down your experience with the harasser, including the time, location, details, and witnesses to the incident. Keep notes, letters, instant messages and texts received from the harasser to use them to support your claims.

Tip 3: Know who to report to.

If your dual language school has an established reporting protocol for sexual harassment cases, consult your employee handbook. If not, your immediate supervisor is the first person to go to if you want to make incident reports that involve sexual harassment. However, if your immediate supervisor is the harasser or it is someone directly above him, it is time to take the report to the human resources department or management.

Photo: 7 Tips for Reporting Sexual Harassment in Dual Language Programs

Continue reading to find more helpful advice on reporting sexual harassment in dual language programs..

Tip 4: File a formal report ASAP.

File the report as soon as possible. Put all your reports in writing to reduce any chance of miscommunication. Remember, you are doing this for both your own sake, and the sake of your bilingual students. It is important to stand up for yourself, as you are also setting an example for future generations.

Photo: 7 Tips for Reporting Sexual Harassment in Dual Language Programs

Tip 5: Encourage others to come forward and offer support.

Coming forward and speaking up is the only way to eliminate this culture of sexual harassment in dual learning environments. Encourage co-teachers, staff and even your biliterate learners to speak up or report when they experience this kind of behavior or when they see this happening to others.

Tip 6: Come forward with a group.

You can come forward on your own to report an incident of sexual harassment or with others to provide you with the support to help you feel confident. Making a formal complaint as a group also lessens any chances of facing retaliation from the harasser or his supporters, and also provides you further evidence.

Tip 7: Consider next steps.

If you have done all the above but the behavior has continued and is affecting how you work and interact with co-teachers and dual immersion students, it may be time to hire a lawyer. Also, this is your next step if you feel like management is not doing all it should to address your complaints. Your lawyer can help you file other complaints with regulatory bodies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the appropriate courts. The #MeToo movement has also established a legal fund to help with reporting.

Photo: 7 Tips for Reporting Sexual Harassment in Dual Language Programs

The culture of sexual harassment in the workplace can only be eradicated if the victims know who to speak to and what to do. Learn how to document, report and encourage others to speak up to change this culture and make all workplaces, and learning environments, safe and productive for everyone.

Patricia Griselda Pérez
Author: Patricia Griselda Pérez

Dr. Patricia Pérez holds an A.A. from Ohlone College: B.A. and M.S. degree from California State University, East Bay and an Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco. She serves as an educator, consultant and teacher coach, which provides professional development, curriculum development and multicultural awareness services to local and international educational institutions and corporations. Dr. Pérez is fluent in Spanish and began her career as an elementary school teacher in a bilingual classroom. In the past two decades, she has developed a wide range of experience working at every level of public education, providing support to educators and directly to students. Her interest focus on promoting educational excellence through equity in order to overcome institutional barriers that confront underserved students of diverse backgrounds. Dr. Pérez is also an accomplished writer and has published in the areas of multicultural education and organizational management and leadership. She is a contributing author to Multicultural Education in Practice: Transforming One Community at a Time and Collaboration and Peak Performance: A Multidisciplinary Perspective for Emerging Leaders.

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