When teens at Girls for Gender Equity conducted participatory action research on the state of sexual harassment in NYC public schools, they found that 1 in 4 students is sexually harassed daily. The acts of violence range from verbal (71%) to physical (63%) to sexual assault (10%). Forty years after the U.S. federal government passed Title IX to end to sex discrimination in schools, sexual harassment continues to plague the lives of young women and LGBTQ youth.
Research shows the effects daily harassment has on youth can range from social alienation to poor grades to destructive behaviors, like dropping out of school and suicide. Still, many dismiss this form of gender-based violence as a rite of passage for adolescents, as a "normal" part of school. However, this doesn't have to be the case and teen girls in NYC prove just how powerful their voices can be as a force for change in Hey, Shorty!: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets. The book is a new resource for young people and adults to use to spark conversations in in their communities about how to cope with sexual harassment while working to increase safety in schools.
Girls for Gender Equity is taking Hey, Shorty! on the road -- making stops at bookstores, schools, and community centers to lead conversations with youth and adults that will build connections among organizations and individuals doing anti-violence work nationwide and encourage young people to become agents of social change. Our goal is to provide them with the model that is working in New York City so that they may learn from our successes and setbacks in order to replicate this work in their community. We want to facilitate 25 events between May and December, and this is why we need your help!
Who We Are
Hey, Shorty! is written by and about Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), a grassroots organization in Brooklyn, NY that encourages communities to remove barriers and create opportunities for girls and women to live self-determined lives. Since my co-authors, Joanne N. Smith and Meghan Huppuch, have this amazing nonprofit to run, I (Mandy Van Deven) will be representing the organization's work for the bulk of the tour. However, Joanne, Meghan, and a few of the young women organizers will join me at stops along the way.
The experiences we have on the tour will be shared on our Hey, Shorty! on the Road blog, which will be frequently updated with notes from the road, stories from folks we meet along the way, and a map of the tour stops. (Check out the virtual tour as well!)
The Impact of Your Support
Girls for Gender Equity is known for its ambition and to be successful with this project, we need your financial assistance. Traveling around the country to engage folks in discussions and mobilize communities to make schools less hostile to girls, women, and LGBTQ people is expensive.
We already have 22 events confirmed and additional dates are forthcoming (for example: Washington, DC; Chapel Hill, NC; Boston, MA; New Orleans, LA; Ithaca, NY). All we are missing is the monetary means to cover the requisite expenditures.
What Your Contribution Will Fund
Every effort will be made to keep costs as low as possible! The necessary expenses include:
Transportation: Getting from one place to another isn't cheap. We need a car and gasoline to move between different cities. Planes will be taken sparingly, but these expenses are the bulk of the cost. And they add up quickly.
Lodging: When I can wrangle free accommodations, like staying with friends and colleagues, I will. But when I can't, I will need to stay in an inexpensive hotel or hostel.
(If any lodging facilities would like to offer up a tax deductible place to sleep in-kind, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
Food: A girls gotta eat, right? Im sure our hosts will be willing to provide some meals, but probably not all of them. Im pretty resourceful in this regard, and I can easily get by on lots of PB&J sammies.
Books: It would be a nice gesture of thanks to give a copy of Hey, Shorty! to the people who graciously host us, not to mention a great organizing strategy to provide copies to our allies. Our publisher will allow me to purchase copies at a reduced rate, but they can't give me copies for free.
Your partnership in this tour is critical to its success! If we are not able to raise $5K then we will not be able to complete our goal.
What You Get In Return
Although helping make schools safer is a reward in itself, supporters will be sent these fabulous rewards:
HELPER ($10): A Hey, Shorty! postcard dropped in the mail from some place on the road.
FRIEND ($25): A Street Harassment is a Crime poster that was designed by the teen women organizers at GGE.
SUPPORTER ($50): A copy of Hey, Shorty!, signed by all the authors
CHAMPION ($250): All of the goodies listed above!
CHANGEMAKER ($500+): I will make a special trip to a city of your choosing so long as this amount will cover the travel expenses.
In addition to donating, you can help out by spreading the word about this project. Ask people you know to make a contribution. Email them a link to this fundraising page. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Post a write-up on your blog. Every action you take adds up and we can't tell you how much we appreciate your support!
What People Are Saying About Hey, Shorty!
A full list of our press coverage can be found here. But here is a sampling:
Hey, Shorty! is an invaluable piece of work. Within each short story lies a lesson or a reminder of how valuable it is to listen to members of your community when youre organizing, and give a voice to the underrepresented, the silenced, and the quiet members, too. Hey, Shorty! will lift you up when you hit obstacles and show you that there really is always a will and a way. It will lend insight into how to circumnavigate your campus and how to rally your troops. - Carmen Rios, teen organizer from SPARK Summit
Hey, Shorty! offers a detailed blueprint for how to make the streets and schools safer for our girls (and everyone else) by empowering young people to take leadership on this issue and supporting them to develop effective strategies. These girls work is a potent example of youth activism: they successfully raised awareness about an issue that has too often gone ignored. Elizabeth Mendez Berry, journalist
This book is full of great ideas for youth organizing and coalition work. Whats most impressive is how GGE encouraged girls to articulate their issues and goals, and then worked with them to learn the skills they needed to achieve their goals. The result? A whole new generation of smart, knowledgeable, articulate and empowered young women. Women who will change the world. Ms. Magazine
The book provides a model for action through the example of Girls for Gender Equitys work, in particular the model of prioritizing youth leadership on issues that relate to youth because, as Joanne N. Smith notes, they are the experts on these issues and they are the main stakeholders. Holly Kearl, author of Stop Street Harassment
Special thanks to the teen women of Sisters in Strength for demonstrating a fierce determination to make sure concerns for one's safety don't impede a good education. And much love to Feminist Press for seeing our potential and helping us to bring it forth!
Mandy Van Deven
Book Tour Coordinator & Co-Author of Hey, Shorty!