Pell City High School students have been raising awareness for sexual assault by holding “Teal Tuesdays.” The movement was started by freshman Anna Claire Hathorn, who said she got the idea from virtual protests she saw online.
“I wanted to raise awareness within the high school because it’s a really bad topic that gets overlooked, or people just aren’t comfortable talking about,” said Hathorn.
Students have been participating by wearing teal (the color for sexual assault awareness) ribbons and clothing.
“It’s just something to make people want to know more about the topic, because, honestly, the victim gets shunned more than the victimizer and it’s not helping the process at all. We want to make people feel like they aren’t alone and more comfortable talking about their experiences,” said Hathorn.
She hopes the program makes people feel like they’re not alone when struggling with tough issues.
Ganae Gaines, one of the assistant principals at PCHS, said the school is on board, and students have the support to continue making their voices heard through Teal Tuesdays and Project SEM;COLON.
“It is very much needed to have the students have their voice heard and have them put it out there themselves. I mean, that’s powerful. So, we’re here for the support. We’re here. We’re here for the ride,” said Gaines.
According to Hathorn, the administration has made it easier for her and her peers to reach out to them about issues.
“It’s been really empowering for us to know that we have a backbone that we can go to and be there for us. A lot of schools don’t do anything about it, and I’m so glad we have good administration that is.”
Due to the pandemic, Hathorn shared that a lot of people around her age have found it a lot easier to connect to each other on social media. She said she hopes her peers continue to communicate openly each other as they return to school.
Her and other students have been working to spread awareness about suicide and sexual assault through social media. She said the most important thing the community can do to support students is help spread awareness.
“It’s hard to explain what we are having to deal with, but a simple repost on Facebook or Instagram can let people see they are supporting us and spreading the word about how we aren’t being quiet,” said Hathorn.
Due to ACT testing, students were unable to participate fully in Teal Tuesday. She said the first one already exceeded her expectations about how many people would be eager to join in the movement.
“I didn’t realize how many people saw it on social media and cared,” said Hathorn.
Hathorn also said it’s done great work to teach people what sexual assault actually means, which can include rape, attempted rape, nonconsensual kissing or touching.
Hathorn thanked Kailyn Hill and Emma Baker, who have both been creating content for social media based around sexual assault awareness and other issues teenagers are currently facing.
Hathorn is also working on Project Sem;colon, which aims to bring awareness to suicide, sexual assault and mental health issues.
“I’m proud of the kids for doing some stuff with it, they’re trying to help people with common problems that people have and I’m really proud of that,” said Garris.