Testimony 131

I am a bisexual man who attended KEGS years 7-13 and honestly just the amount of unwanted touching from both boys and girls at the school was horrible. I often had people grab my bum (or, in one particularly egregious event, grab my crotch as part of a hug) and while none of the girls in my year in sixth form ever touched me inappropriately, when I was in year 10-11 I got it from both girls and boys older than me. It was only when I left that I realised how much it had affected me, and I am now reluctant to be touched by really anyone outside the context of a quick hug.

It’s such a shame because everyone was learning norms of social interaction in that environment, so the habit of unwanted touching quickly “spread” throughout the school body. Without any alternative paradigm of social interaction taught explicitly, I doubt people even realised what they were doing was upsetting.

The thing is, I’ve received messages from people who did touch me innapropriately and unwamtedly since I left KEGS apologising and saying that they didn’t realise it could be have such negative effects at the time. So it’s clear that this isn’t some immutable feature of the adolescent worldview. I imagine if a different set of norms had been explicitly taught and internalized then this problem would not have been nearly as bad. (Though I should note here that I am no sociologist)

I hope at least this can be a jumpstart to explicitly teaching such alternative norms. I just can’t help but wonder whether I would feel so horribly anxious around people now if such norms were already alive and well while I attended the school

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