“No comment.”
This is how a Middle School Dean in Florida replied when asked about how his school enforces Title IX - a law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded institutions. The primary use of Title IX is to address instances of sexual harassment, sexual violence and gender-based discrimination in order to protect the rights of all students. Despite the necessity of Title IX enforcement in schools, students, parents, and even teachers are often unaware of what Title IX entails. The lack of conversation around sexual violence in schools, especially middle and high school, has left students unclear of their rights, leading them to begin to accept this behavior as normal. We found that students as young as 12 years old thought instances of sexual harassment were “normal”.   
We envision schools where the norm is mutual respect among students, who know their rights and hold others accountable when they are violated.  In order to achieve this vision, students need to be able to:
1. Identify sexual violence and harassment in their school, community, and culture.
2. Know their rights and how Title IX protects these rights.
3. Take Action if these rights have been violated and their school has not taken appropriate measures to address the issue.  
4. Be an Upstander by supporting other students in their school, so that everyone has equal opportunity to thrive in a safe environment.
Partnering with Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), a non-profit with a mission to advance gender justice in employment and education, my team and I created a strategy and resources that could be dispersed directly to middle and high school students across the country that would support our vision of de-normalizing sexual violence.  And so we created a campaign called The New Normal.  
The New Normal has a multi-pronged approach to address sexual violence in schools: through social media, the distribution of a zine, and a campaign to raise awareness about this issue. 
The Zine
The zine is a booklet of 20 legal-size pages that also contains information about other organizations and various stories from other students. It will work in conjunction with posters, postcards, stickers and buttons, which will be distributed among schools and campuses to connect students with ERA’s national helpline, where they offer free legal advice and pro bono services.
Social Media
In addition to distributing resources within schools, we also envision making the material accessible digitally as well as reinforcing the material through ERA’s social media. This will account for wider access and distribution. Beyond these distribution mechanisms, ERA can also leverage their fundraising efforts and existing connections with various organizations, such as Know your IX, to share the New Normal materials with an even wider audience.
The Campaign
There are multiple assets within our campaign that complement one another: A toolkit with workshop materials well as other printed items to spread our message, all of which is backed by a strong social media presence that invites the community to engage in the content. The toolkit includes zines, posters, and a facilitation guide that can be used by educators, students, or other facilitators. Along with the core materials of the toolkit, we also envision smaller, more personal items such as buttons and stickers acting as the beacons of our message.
The New Normal campaign supports schools and reinforces the US Department of Education’s mission to “promote student achievement” and “ensure “equal access”. With students being more aware of their rights and their school’s responsibilities, they will be equipped to take adequate steps to seek out legal action. We are committed to spread awareness among all schools with a focus on marginalized students in middle and high school who are denied justice because of their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation. ERA’s mission is to provide accessible legal counsel to those most in need, and these students are a segment of the population that needs it the most. Ultimately, we want to underscore not only the problem of sexual violence in schools across the country, but to collectively recognize that this has become a norm for many students. ERA’s mission is to provide students with resources, advice, and support, and the New Normal can act as the vehicle to connect students with this mission.
We envision our impact extending well beyond the printed items we are distributing. Our zine is intentionally designed so that students can easily replicate it and customize it to better reflect their own school community. We will provide them with a support manual of how to use our zine as a template to make their own zines that they can distribute among their peers. In conjunction with the printed material, we believe a strong social media campaign can act as a sounding board for students and help bring stories of discrimination to the spotlight and help them achieve justice. We also see the social media as a way to introduce ERA’s lawyers in a way that makes them feel approachable to a student so that they feel comfortable calling the helpline.
The Team​​​​​​​
Jessica Panicola
Rutvika Gupta
Zoe Bordenet
Xujun Wang
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