Protesters with signs line up across from Norman High School

Protesters with signs line up across Norman High School

Dozens of protesters began assembling on Main Street across from Norman High School early today. 

The demonstrators were protesting the manner in which the administrtors handled reported bullying of an alleged rape victim. One observer said more than 200 protesters, including students and many parents, were there shortly after 9 a.m.

Police began blocking off streets to accommodate the protesters. This included Main Street in front of Norman High. It was later reopened. Many of the protesters were carrying signs.

Norman High students were encouraged to exit their classes without speaking and peacefully protest outside the school. Students wanting to take part in the demonstration are asked to have parental consent and return to class by their second hour. Those who have not returned by second hour will be marked unexcused unless a parent has contacted their attendance clerk to excuse them, according to the superintendent.

Although students will be permitted to leave class in order to participate in the walkout, Siano said disturbing threats against Principal Scott Beck and staff over the weekend, as well as reports from parents that students were pressured by students to join the protest, have compelled the school to have additional administrative support and Norman Police Department officers on campus.

Students were cheering as other students walked out of class and joined in the protest.

Several Norman High and district administrators received anonymous messages, including Norman Public Schools Spokesperson Shelly Hickman. Hickman said one of the messages she received called her “the perfect moral argument for abortion.”

“If you were black, you'd be the perfect moral argument for slavery, and if you were Jewish, you'd be the perfect moral argument for Auschwitz,” the message said.

Members of the #YesAllDaughters announced their disapproval of the threats school officials received in a Facebook status update posted Sunday evening.

“The #YesAllDaughters condemns bullying, no matter its source or target,” the post said. “The threats that have been made against Norman High administrators have not come from anyone associated with our peaceful movement. We strongly urge those who support us to support our anti-bullying message.”

While the threats are concerning, Superintendent Joe Siano said he is prioritizing the safety of students and their capacity to have their voices heard. Alternative means for showing support for sexual assault victims, include white ribbons and Tigers Take A Stand Against Bullying stickers, will be provided to students who want to take a stand against bullying without missing class.

“We hope the students will wear these in symbolic support,” Siano said.

Siano also said he had reviewed the list of demands #YesAllDaughters released Sunday evening, which includes “the immediate implementation of sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying” and victim sensitivity training for faculty and administrators His letter addresses ongoing work to enlarge a task force to include, parents students and faculty that had convened six months ago to study the implementation of a targeted, research-based sexual assault curriculum for Norman high schools and to review bullying policies.

“There are sexual assault curriculums that are research-based that are becoming more and more available and that's what's being looked at,” Siano said. “We will consider any research based sexual assault curriculum that builds on and expands the work we're already doing. I will be the first to tell you that this type of effort never ends. You always look for the latest and most improved efforts and ways of addressing this. We are constantly in that review and I couldn't agree more with individuals saying we need effective teacher training and student training in these areas, including parents, young men and young women."

“We are very much in agreement with the concerns that was reflected in that list of demands. In fact, a lot of the things that we're doing align with that. Can we continue to do that and improve? Sure. We will always work toward that direction and there's nothing on that list that we wouldn't consider and if we found that it would increase our effectiveness, we would certainly look at it."

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