When teen girls take leadership positions, the truth is exposed and the culture shifts

A few days ago I posted about the lack of female leadership at Andover, and how exposure to this kind of sexism in high school can affect kids for a lifetime.

This week, two stories are in the news about high school girls taking a stand to make a difference in their schools and their communities. Both girls are in power positions, one as a journalist and the other a student body vice president.

Lisie Sabbag writes for the Palo Alto High School magazine Verde.


Wanting to investigate the teen rape issues that gained national attention from the Steubenville story, Sabbag wrote about sexual violence in her hometown, the wealthy community of Palo Alto.

SFGate spoke to Sabbag about her story:

“I interviewed almost 10 different rape survivors, all from Paly. Most of them when they found out I was writing about it came up to me and said they wanted to help out. The two stories I used were very representative….

Teen boys are expected to take advantage of the opportunities at all costs, or else face the ire of their friends, according to Amy, a senior who has experienced this first-hand.

“They [Paly guys] would say, ‘Oh you didn’t want to have sex with her because she’s drunk? You’re such a fag,’” Amy says. “Not that that’s excusable, but there is just as much pressure on guys to have sex and f— everything that moves as there is on girls to be that girl that sleeps with them.”

In West Virginia, Katelyn Campbell, the student body vice president at George Washington High School, refused to attend a school assembly hosted by conservative speaker Pam Stenzel.


Think Progress reports:

Stenzel has a long history of using inflammatory rhetoric to convince young people that they will face dire consequences for becoming sexually active. At GW’s assembly, Stenzel allegedly told students that “if you take birth control, your mother probably hates you” and “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.” She also asserted that condoms aren’t safe, and every instance of sexual contact will lead to a sexually transmitted infection.

Campbell refused to attend the assembly, which was funded by a conservative religious organization called “Believe in West Virginia” and advertised with fliers that proclaimed “God’s plan for sexual purity.”


Campbell says that her principal, furious with her, threatened to call the college where she had been accepted, Wellesley, to say that she was a “back stabber” with a “bad character.” Refusing to be silent or back down, Campbell filed a complaint with the ACLU and is speaking publicly about her story.

What happens when girls don’t become elected officials or journalists in their schools? Which stories remain hidden and what issues never come to light?

What happens when girls have the courage to tell the truth about what they see, experience, what they think is important and what’s really going on in their lives?

Females are half of the population. They ought to hold 50% of power positions in their schools. When girls are invisible, all kids lose out.