By Euan Mitchell
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2788

‘No means no’— Darlington sixth form walkout against sexism

They said that assault allegations were not taken seriously by the college
Issue 2788
Around 85 students rally outside the college holding posters against sexism

Around 85 students at the Darlington sixth form walked out

Sixth form students in Darlington, County Durham, are mobilising against sexism. 

Some 85 students walked out at 11.20am last Wednesday over the Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form administration’s lack of response to sexual assault allegations. They declared, “Silence is violence.” 

Organisers primarily used QESurvivorsWalk Instagram to collate anonymous contributions from students. 

A sixth form student who organised the protest said, “I know people who have reported three or four assaults. And nothing happens other than a slap on the wrist for the assaulters.”

They went on to explain, “There were tutor sessions about consent, which is amazing and we need more. But what we’ve seen as QESurvivorsWalk is more people coming forward as a result of understanding consent.” 

Wilbur, a survivor of sexual assault, said, “I’ve never opened up about it, but I want to help people who have opened up about it and haven’t received any help.” 

Violet, another student, said she was walking out for “all the people that can’t speak out” because of trans oppression. 

The students prepared a manifesto with demands for the college to meet. They included justice for some 80 students that have reported assault to the page and a mechanism for removing trans and non-binary students’ “dead names” from ID passes. 

The organiser added, “They keep telling us we are a college of 2,000 voices, but the voices of the 80 that came to us are not being listened to.” 

Tim Fisher, Principal of QE Sixth Form College said: “Clearly, issues of sexual harassment and assault are important concerns for society and we share the view that they should be given urgent attention.”

On the morning of the protest, the students mustered in the park across from the college. Some students had made badges for the day, with slogans such as, “Protect Survivors,” and, “We will not be silenced.” 

Once mustered, the students held posters reading, “Smash sexism and the system,” before marching through the college to get their message out. 

They demanded safety and not to be penalised for avoiding lessons with the people they made allegations about. 

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