Over the summer, numerous Instagram accounts were created, detailing the sexual assault and harassment experiences of Montgomery County students, most of whom were female. These allegations spurred one young activist into action: Phoebe Chambers, a senior at Winston Churchill High School. She created a petition to Montgomery County Public Schools on Change.org that had received nearly 40,000 signatures at the time this article was written.
“After reading all of the sexual harassment and assault allegations on social media, especially the ones where people were forced to be in classes with their abusers, I knew something had to be done,” Phoebe said. And so she proposed a scheduling tool for middle and high school students that was incorporated into Synergy, Montgomery County Public Schools’ new platform for grades, scheduling, and much more.
However, the implementation of this scheduling tool was not the end of Phoebe’s advocacy for and involvement in conflict prevention. After creating her petition and its accompanying proposal and then introducing them both to the school district, she met with Title IX coordinators, student leadership, and others who wish to see sexual assault reform within the county, collaborating in order to make the scheduling tool more accessible, as well as brainstorming other ways to be more proactive when it comes to sexual assault. “It’s definitely a struggle to be a student in a room full of adults, but I’m confident that this could actually go somewhere. The community response and support for me personally have been incredible,” Phoebe added.
The wave of Instagram accounts and the widely-spread petition directed increased scrutiny towards those accused of sexual assault and harassment allegations, but the creator of the petition does not want the survivors to be forgotten. “A scheduling tool that keeps sexual assault and harassment survivors out of classes with their abusers would improve so many peoples’ lives. It’s a small step, but it puts the county on the right track in terms of dealing with these incidents,” Phoebe said. How much of an effect of this student’s petition has remains to be seen, but the changes already made by the school district will likely be lasting.
Written by Queen Balina
Published by PR Department