Reasons for signing
See why other supporters are signing, why this petition is important to them, and share your reason for signing (this will mean a lot to the starter of the petition).
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- Anita Kanitz
Sexual, racial, gender violence and other forms of discrimination and violence in a culture cannot be eliminated without changing culture.
-- Charlotte Bunch
“We have to start looking at the world through women’s eyes’ how are human rights, peace and development defined from the perspective of the lives of women? It’s also important to look at the world from the perspective of the lives of diverse women, because there is not single women’s view, any more than there is a single men’s view.”
-- Charlotte Bunch
Feminism is an entire world view or gestalt, not just a laundry list of women's issues.
-- Charlotte Bunch
The state of the world today demands that women become less modest and dream/plan/act/risk on a larger scale.
-- Charlotte Bunch
Women have a lot to say about how to advance women's rights, and governments need to learn from that, listen to the movement and respond.”
-- Charlotte Bunch
Even though they make up half the population, women and girls have endured discrimination in most societies for thousands of years. In the past, women were treated as property of their husbands or fathers - they couldn't own land, they couldn't vEvote or go to school, and were subject to beatings and abuse and could do nothing about it. Over the last hundred years, much progress has been made to gain equal rights for women around the world, but many still live without the rights to which all people are entitled.
-- Robert Alan Silverstein
My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it's very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.
-- Ani DiFranco
I have something to prove, as long as I know there's something that needs improvement, and you know that everytime I move, I make a woman's movement.
-- Ani DiFranco
“No nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men. No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.
― Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Women are the nourishing power of the Universe. Whoever has deep respect for women of the world, will remain free from diseases.
― Amit Ray
Hate crimes and hate against women and girls have many faces today:
Femicide, female infanticide, war rapes, mass rapes, gang rapes, daily rapes worldwide of children, girls and women, FGM, physical mutilation connected with domestic and sexual violence, child marriages, forced marriages, underaged marriages, honor killings, stoning, execution and punishment of rape and assault victims, sexual torture, forced dangerous sexual practices like BDSM; witch hunts, widow murder, sexual murder, dowry murder, acid attacks, sexual and domestic violence, victim blaming of victims of sexual and domestic assault, daily hate speech, collective sexual harassment in crowds like taharrush gamea, puplic sexual harassment like Eve teasing, sexism and hate speech in the society and the media, abuctions connected with forced marriages and conversion like in many muslim countries, upskirting, cyber stalking, cyber bullying, online harassment,street harassment, workplace harassment, campus harassment, violence during child birth, sexist dress codes, sex slavery, human trafficking, forced prostitution, sadistic pornography, child pornography, revenge porns, snuff porns, sadistic stalking, sexism at the workplace and the campus, body shaming, forced child births, shackling pregnant women in prison like in the U.S., driving ban like in Saudi Arabia, forced dress codes like the Burka, lack of education and contraception.We must call the crimes and the hate by the name and we must together fight against that. The half of the world belongs to the women, without women there is no life on earth.
The heinous crime: Raped and Bullied to suicide:
Rehtaeh Parson (2013):
'Gang-rape victim', Canada, 17, kills herself 'after her attackers took picture of the assault and sent it to classmates who branded her a slut'
Rehtaeh Parsons 'was raped by four classmates when she was 15'!
They 'took a photo of the attack and circulated it around the school'!
Classmates and friends shunned her and she was forced to leave#!
Police investigated but did not press charges due to insufficient evidence!
A 17-year-old girl has killed herself after four boys raped her and spread a photograph of the assault, causing classmates and friends to taunt and cyber-bully her, her mother has said.
Rehtaeh Parsons from Nova Scotia, Canada hanged herself in her family's bathroom on Thursday after months of torment and, on Sunday night, her parents took her off life support.
Questions are now emerging over whether authorities and her friends did enough to help Rehtaeh, who relatives said quickly slipped from an A-student to a moody, unpredictable teenager.
No charges were ever brought against Rehtaeh's alleged attackers following the assault in 2011; an investigation was launched but authorities concluded they did not have enough evidence.
On a Facebook tribute page, her mother, Leah Parsons, described how her daughter was forever changed by the alleged assault in their hometown of Cole Harbour.
'She went with a friend to another's home,' her mother wrote. 'In that home, she was raped by four young boys. One of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh's school and community, where it quickly went viral.'
The alleged attack left then 15-year-old Rehtaeh an outcast at Cole Harbour District High School, where her rapists were also students. Friends, students and strangers taunted her, her mother said.
'People texted her all the time, saying "Will you have sex with me?"' she said. 'Girls texting, saying "You're such a slut".
'She was never left alone. She had to leave the community. Her friends turned against her. People harassed her... It just never stopped,' her mother told CBC.
Her parents moved from Cole Harbour to Halifax to help her escape the bullies and Rehtaeh made new friends and began hearing from her old school friends, who offered her their support.
She said her daughter also started therapy, which appeared to be helping. Yet she would become angry quickly, and last week's suicide attempt was probably the result of a mood swing, Leah said.
'She acted on an impulse, but I truly, in my heart of heart, do not feel she meant to kill herself,' her mother wrote on Facebook. 'By the time I broke into the bathroom, it was too late.'
The Canadian police launched an investigation, which took a year, but concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring up charges.
'An investigation into an earlier sexual assault was completed, and in consultation with the Crown, there was insufficient evidence to lay charges,' RCMP spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae said.
They didn't even interview the boys until much, much later,' To me, I’d think you’d get the boys right away, separate them.”
Relatives said they saw the photograph but could not determine who had taken it, so were unable to charge the teenagers - even though the picture legally constituted child pornography.
'The whole case was full of things like that,' Leah said. We didn’t have a rape kit done because we didn't even know until several days later when she had a breakdown in my kitchen. She was trying to keep it to herself.'
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae confirmed to the Chronicle Herald that the authorities are currently investigating a sudden death involving a young person, but would not provide further details.
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At the time I assumed Fr. Reilly was speaking hyperbolically. Of course, reasonable boundaries have to be set; but, I thought, there must exist some room for building meaningful relationships between teachers and students. I was just about to complete a Masters program in Theology & Christian Ministry, and had studied the educational philosophy of St. John Bosco, the great patron of schoolchildren, who said, “Youngsters should not only be loved, but they should know that they are loved.” Yet there I was, sitting in the office of Fr. Reilly, being told that they are not even human.
I taught for five years at St. Joseph by-the-Sea, ending my tenure on my own terms after the conclusion of the 2016–2017 school year. Over the course of that time, I saw Fr. Reilly’s character unfold in a way that revealed him to be a narrow-minded, ineffective, and uninspiring executive leader. But much more dangerously, because he is a Catholic priest, the fact that he remains acting principal—even while facing allegations as alarming and disturbing as those contained in the ongoing lawsuit—does nothing but scandalizes the student body and undermines just about any effort of the school, and especially my efforts as a Religion teacher, to promote Christian values. Some students, I am heartbroken to say, have confided to me that Fr. Reilly’s alleged transgressions have diminished their sense of faith, even their belief in God.
The mission statement of St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School acclaims, “The Gospel is the purpose and foundation of all that we do.” If that is the case, then how much longer will Fr. Reilly’s presence at the school be tolerated? How many bright, young, Staten Island Catholics is the Archdiocese willing to forfeit?
I would be dishonest if I said that I personally witnessed everything detailed in the lawsuit. But, for what it's worth, here are some things that I have observed, some of which have to do with Fr. Reilly’s mere lack of professionalism, some of which have to do with the larger problem of his grossly deficient moral character:
(1) In either late 2014 or early 2015, I was sitting at a table in the faculty lounge across from Fr. Reilly when a male student entered to retrieve a bag belonging to Mrs. Ellen Galligano, who, at the time, was fragile, ill, and, as it turned out, only months away from dying. Fr. Reilly yelled at the boy—almost the loudest I’ve ever heard him yell—insisting that he is not to carry anything for Mrs. Galligano. It’s my understanding that this kind of thing happened often. I see it as not only a disgrace, but a sin in the truest sense, that a priest of the Catholic Church would deny our students the opportunity to offer reasonable help to someone in such a condition as the one Mrs. Galligago was at that time, and that those occasions for our students to practice Christian charity were wasted. You might have noticed that Fr. Reilly drives with a pro-life bumper sticker that reads, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish" (St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata). But the impression I got from this episode is that anyone who prevents Fr. Reilly from carrying out his agenda can become, in his eyes, disposable.
(2) In March of 2015 I broke my ankle in an accident near my home. The next day, I arrived at work in crutches, and Fr. Reilly promptly reassigned all of my classes to a first-floor classroom so that I wouldn’t have to cover too much ground. It seemed, for at least a moment, that he was acting out of kindness and compassion. What I soon learned, however, was that by going to a new homeroom on the first floor, I was actually displacing another faculty member, Mr. Charles Ciccarelli. Fr. Reilly reassigned Mr. Ciccarelli, who was then a cancer patient (and who passed away nine months later), to an upstairs classroom inaccessible by elevator.
(3) Fr. Reilly taught one section of sophomore Religion every year from 2012–2016, but I don’t believe he ever graded or even read a midterm or final exam essay. Typically, the Religion midterm and final each include one twelve-point essay question. And while my students would receive essay grades ranging anywhere from 0–12, every one of Fr. Reilly’s students received the full twelve points. This is not my own speculation; teachers’ exams are plainly visible to other teachers on the testing website used by the school—I’ve seen the grades for myself. So, while the rest of the faculty works overtime to finish grading by deadline, Fr. Reilly spends a negligible amount of time entering “12” in every student’s column. (He has done the same thing in the non-Religion classes that he teaches, which I believe includes Western Civ. and AP European History). This results, obviously, in an uneven playing field for the students, creating a scenario in which the majority of students (that is, anyone not in Fr. Reilly's class) are evaluated with a much higher degree of scrutiny than those in Fr. Reilly's class, who are not evaluated at all. Students and parents should be outraged by this academic irregularity even if this was Fr. Reilly's only offense.
(4) Upon returning from Christmas vacation in January 2017, members of the faculty were surprised to find that all of the items that had been stored in the cabinets, drawers and refrigerator of the faculty lounge were gone, including personal belongings. I, for one, was missing a bottle of salad dressing, a book, and a record that had been given to me as a gift from another teacher. When asked, a custodian said that a cleaning crew came during the Christmas break and evidently threw the items away. I raised my complaints multiple times with Fr. Reilly, and he never so much as expressed an apology, let alone offered to call the cleaning company or make some form of restitution. It’s now my strong suspicion that Fr. Reilly, without bothering to notify the faculty, ordered the full cleansing of the faculty lounge. And if I’m wrong, it means that he failed to respond when a cleaning crew hired by the school took it upon themselves to indiscriminately toss the full contents of every cabinet and drawer of the faculty lounge into the garbage.
(5) By needlessly insisting that teachers move from classroom to classroom throughout the day (e.g., Period 1 in Room 102, Period 2 in 207, Period 4 in 108, and so on), Fr. Reilly has made the teacher’s job substantially more difficult than it should be, and far less efficient. As it is currently, with teachers having to rush from one classroom to the next, at least a couple of obvious problems arise. For one, it is nearly impossible to speak with or take questions from students between classes. Secondly, while the administration requires that teachers instruct their classes “from bell to bell,” it’s more often the case that teachers are instead spending the first moments of every period setting up the classroom where they just arrived from the period before. (Not only does this waste valuable instruction time, but, for less effective teachers, it can quickly lead to classroom management troubles.) All of this, combined with the now standardized and insipid (and, in some cases, hyper-politicized) physical appearance of all of Sea’s classrooms—including the removal of bulletin boards and stripping teachers of any “proprietary control” (as Fr. Reilly has put it) over the rooms in which they teach (In other words, teachers are not free to tastefully arrange and decorate classrooms)—means that Fr. Reilly has turned Sea’s classrooms into disempowered work spaces where morale and effectiveness are at serious risk of suffering.
(6) Last year at Sea, I averaged roughly 38 students per class (across six classes; in total, approximately 230 students), with my largest class comprising 44 students. Due to this extreme overcrowding, classroom management is, for many teachers (especially new and inexperienced ones), a constant and sometimes insurmountable struggle, compounded by the administration’s failure to offer those teachers help in developing the skills needed to improve. But aside from the obvious challenges related to managing students’ behavior, such large class sizes make it practically impossible for teachers to give meaningful, regular homework and projects that would help students to reinforce, apply, and expand on what is taught in class. Still, even with this glaring problem, Fr. Reilly is inexplicably investing in a multi-million dollar “student center” rather than spending to increase classroom space and improve the student-to-faculty ratio. To my amazement, the one time I raised the issue of class sizes to Fr. Reilly, his response was, “Why have 20 when you can have 40?”, leaving me with the impression that actual student learning is one of his least concerns.
(7) Fr. Reilly is tremendously unpopular with the students. I haven’t conducted a formal survey, but my experience working with the students tells me that most, if they’re being honest, would probably have a very hard time finding anything kind to say about him. There is a widespread conviction among the girls especially that Fr. Reilly treats male students with a higher regard than female students. Those who have him in class routinely report that he picks on students, and that the questions that appear on his tests are hardly reflective of what he presents in class (Much of his time in class is spent, I’m told, pontificating on modern U.S. politics), and that the atmosphere in his classes is such that students are too uncomfortable to even speak. Some students think so little of him that they even call into question the validity of his priesthood.
(8) This summer, senior students were assigned to read Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General. Besides the fact of the book’s arcane subject matter, one might have reasonably assumed—due to the highly publicized removal of Mr. O’Reilly from Fox News as he now faces numerous allegations of sexual harassment—that Fr. Reilly’s trend of assigning works of pop, pseudo history by the disgraced former host of The O’Reilly Factor would not continue into 2017; but one would be wrong. What message is Fr. Reilly sending to the students when he assigns summer-reading books written by a notorious sexual harasser? Is it to be taken as the Church’s permission to ignore, dismiss, or take lightly the accounts of sexual harassment victims (He is a priest, and some students will see his views as being representative of the Church as a whole), or even worse, an implicit endorsement of Mr. O’Reilly’s behavior?
Of course, I’m just one teacher, and the observations that I described above are from my personal experiences. There is information out there more appalling than mine (namely, in the publicly available court documents and on Change.org); and there’s information that I would like to be out there though I would be out of place in sharing it. But, if my and other’s accounts have any accuracy, and if the allegations against Fr. Reilly are true—if even only some of them are true—where is the outrage from the Archdiocese, the Cardinal, the school board, benefactors, alumni, and from the families of enrolled students? Why aren't the phones ringing off the hook at 5150 Hylan Blvd. and 1011 First Ave.? Why is Fr. Reilly still running the show at Sea?
And, perhaps the most disconcerting question is this: For what reason is he being protected?
I suspect, probably to no one’s surprise, that one of the biggest explanations for the inadequacy of the protests is fear. Teachers and staff members quite reasonably wish to avoid scrutiny (I was in this category only a few months ago). Parents, in a similar manner, do not want to say anything that might jeopardize their child's standing in the school. Fr. Reilly has a reputation, among some whom I have talked to, of being a vindictive person, and is known to have a long memory when it comes to those whom he perceives as having wronged or humiliated him. I imagine that if my present words ever reach his attention, his first impulse will be to pick up the phone and attempt to defame me to my new employer, which he once unsuccessfully tried to do to my friend and former colleague, and I’m sure to many other people. (It won’t work.)
But whatever risks I may be taking on by releasing this account publicly, I’m willing to undergo them for the sake of following my conscience, for the promotion of the truth, and for the spiritual and moral good of the students, faculty and staff who still call Sea home.
Not too long ago—about twenty years—there was a young man living in Cambodia whose life and death I only recently learned about, but who has quickly become an inspiration to me in my vocation as a Catholic school teacher. The following excerpts about him were published last month in America magazine, a Jesuit publication:
"A young Jesuit who died shielding his students from a grenade blast will soon be on the path to sainthood, following Pope Francis’ recent declaration that those who give their lives for others in situations of certain death can be considered for canonization.
Filipino Jesuit scholastic Richie Fernando worked as a missionary in Cambodia in Banteay Prieb, the Jesuit vocational training center for survivors of landmines and polio and people with learning disabilities. In October 1996 an emotionally distraught student brought a grenade to school. When he approached a classroom full of students, grenade in hand, Mr. Fernando grabbed him from behind. The student, Sarom, dropped the grenade, and the explosion killed the young Jesuit. His body had shielded Sarom and the other students from the blast.
Mr. Fernando had written to a friend about his students months before his death: 'I suddenly find myself feeling great love for them. If only I could follow Christ's ways. If only I could help all of them as God would. … I hope I could offer my life to them to the fullest.'"
Fr. Reilly has said that the goal of St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School is to “make the students saints” (an important goal, even if his sincerity is severely lacking). This is still possible. But in order for it to happen, the students of Sea will need to be shown that the real treasure of the Church—and of Catholic education—is to be found in examples like Richie Fernando, who demonstrated, as did St. John Bosco and countless other saintly men and women throughout history, that the prevailing pursuit of the saints includes nothing to do with intimidation, harassment, or asserting one’s will over another—but only Christ-like love.
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