Bullying, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and Hazing Prevention
Lexington High School (LHS), in partnership with parents, guardians, and the community, and in keeping with the Lexington Public Schools core value of respect for human differences, believes that a positive, safe, and civil environment in school is necessary for students to learn and achieve. Bullying is conduct that can disrupt a student’s ability to learn by preventing that student’s full engagement with his or her education. Moreover, bullying compromises a school’s ability to educate its students in a safe environment. The Lexington School Committee, therefore, prohibits acts of bullying or cyber-bullying throughout the Public Schools of Lexington.
“Bullying” shall include, but is not limited to, the repeated use by one or more students or a member of the school staff of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at a target that:
- causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property;
- places the target in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself, or of damage to his/her property;
- creates a hostile learning and/or social environment at school for the target;
- infringes on the rights of the target at school; or
- materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
“Cyber-bullying” means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by any of the following: wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages, facsimile communications, cell phone, texting, or social media.
Cyber-bullying shall also include the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or knowingly impersonates another person as author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.
Cyber-bullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.
Bullying and cyber-bullying can occur in and out of school, during and after school hours, at home and in locations outside of a home. When bullying and cyber-bullying are alleged, the full cooperation and assistance of parents or guardians and their families are expected.
For the purpose of this policy, whenever the term bullying is used, it is to denote either bullying, or cyber-bullying.
Some student misconduct that falls under the Lexington Public School’s anti-bullying policy may also fall under one or more of the federal antidiscrimination laws that prohibit harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, or sex. Harassment on the basis of these enumerated categories is discrimination and a federal civil rights violation that schools are obligated to address. For example, when students are bullied on the basis of their sexual orientation, creating a hostile environment at school, the conduct also may be considered sexual harassment or gender-based harassment.
Students who believe that they are a target of bullying are encouraged and urged to report the matter to a member of the school staff. Students who observe an act of bullying, or who have reasonable grounds to believe that these behaviors are taking place, are obligated to report incidents to a member of the school staff. Parents or guardians, or members of the community, are encouraged to report an incident of suspected bullying to the Deans.
The Lexington High School Bullying Prevention and Intervention Incident Reporting Form can be found in the Deans’ Offices and on the LHS website. Forms can be completed and returned to the Deans’ mailboxes anonymously, but no disciplinary action will be taken against an alleged aggressor solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
Lexington High School is committed to maintaining a school environment free of any harassment based on, but not limited to, age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation. Such harassment in the school environment is unlawful and is absolutely prohibited. This includes harassment by administrators, certified and support personnel, students, vendors, and other individuals in school or at school-related events. Further, any retaliation against an individual who has complained about harassment or against individuals for cooperating with an investigation of a harassment complaint is similarly unlawful and will not be tolerated.
Harassment is defined as any communication or conduct that is sufficiently serious to limit or deny the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the educational program. It includes, but is not limited to, any communication, written, spoken or otherwise, such as jokes, comments, innuendoes, notes; material placed on the internet or other electronic media such as email, web page, and voice mail; writing placed on school property, the display of pictures or symbols, graffiti, gestures, or other conduct that offends or shows disrespect to others based upon age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
By law, the particular communication or conduct is viewed from the perspective of a reasonable person with the characteristic on which the harassment is based. What one person may consider acceptable behavior may reasonably be viewed as harassment by another person; therefore, individuals should consider how their words and actions might be viewed by other individuals.
While all types of harassment are prohibited, sexual harassment requires particular attention. Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Acceptance of or submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of education, or
- The individual’s response to such conduct is used as a basis for educational, disciplinary, or other decisions affecting a student, or
- Such conduct interferes with an individual’s education or participation in extracurricular activities, or
- The conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive school environment.
The legal definition of sexual harassment is broad. In addition to the above examples, other sexually oriented conduct, whether it is intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating an educational environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating or humiliating to individuals may also constitute sexual harassment. While it is not possible to list all circumstances that may constitute such harassment, examples may include references to sexual conduct, comments on an individual’s body, unwelcome leers, and suggestive or insulting comments.
The term “hazing” shall mean any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person. Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation.
Whoever knows that another person is the victim of hazing and is at the scene of such crime, shall, to the extent that such person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others, report such crime to a member of the school staff and/or an appropriate law enforcement official as soon as reasonably practicable.
School-related disciplinary actions for students who are found to have committed an act of bullying, harassment, hazing, or retaliation, shall be in accordance with LHS disciplinary procedures and may be subject to reporting to local law enforcement agencies and subject to further criminal action.