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Hopkins High School students stage sit-in for sexual violence victims

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Hopkins High School sit-in
Students participate in a sit-in at Hopkins High School to "protest the silencing of victims of sexual harassment."
Courtesy of Sally Reed

More than 200 students at Hopkins High School staged a sit-in  Thursday morning to protest what they describe as the silencing of victims of sexual violence.

The sit-in took place at the same time that Christine Blasey Ford was testifying in Washington about her allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers.

Hopkins High School senior Jessica Melnik helped organize the sit-in.

She said the sit-in wasn't meant to be political. But she says the students who participated are outraged by the message some lawmakers are sending surrounding the allegations against Kavanaugh.

"They're saying 'boys will be boys,' and things teenage boys do to teenage girls don't matter later in life, people make mistakes, things happen and that our experiences as victims of sexual violence, whether it be harassment assault or rape don't matter," Melnik said.

Hopkins High School sit-in
The sit-in took place at the same time that Christine Blasey Ford was testifying in Washington about her allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers.
Courtesy of Sally Reed

Kavanaugh has strongly denied the allegations. Melnik said she hopes lawmakers and school districts will listen to the voices of teenagers in high school when considering issues and policies surrounding sexual violence.

"A lot of times it is hard for students to find resources on who to contact or who to report to in high school," Melnik said, pointing out there are often more resources for victims on college campuses than in high schools.

Melnik said she hopes the sit-in can lead to more conversations and resources in schools for people under the age of 18 to report and help prevent instances of sexual violence.

"I think we should take a more proactive approach instead of a reactive approach," Melnik said.

Hopkins Public Schools didn't return MPR News' request for comment Thursday afternoon.

MPR News intern Precious Fondren contributed reporting.