We need change at Habs Girls!
We need change at Habs Girls!
Habs girls is well known for its good results, however what is overlooked by everyone there is the toxic culture. Or maybe the higher up staff are aware but simply do nothing. Having had our own individual struggles and bad experiences, a group of us girls got fed up and couldn't understand how we were the only ones. We created an instagram account to collate information and to see if others felt similarly. We were shocked with the responses, and it changed our goals. We started off being annoyed at the toxic culture and the new rather illogical sanctions system but the overwhelming amount of responses about eating disorders, self harm, sexism and even racism made us realised the problem is far more serious. We feel this quote from a student sums up our experience at Habs quite effectively:
"everything about the school and the way the school acts is for show and to look good from the outside, but the truth is they don’t care about our mental health or happiness, just about money and how they look"
We have listed some of the responses we received below:
"a teacher drew a little white blonde girl with a halo on the board in year seven and put complimentary adjectives underneath like "pretty" "kind" "beautiful" and whatever in French and then she drew a boy and gave him devil horns and shaded his face in with board markers and wrote like "ugly" "bad" "mean" and stuff like that and the whole class was in disbelief, I took a photo an showed it to my form tutor ... and she literally just laughed it off and was like "oh that's madame...." for you."
"The islamophobia in the school is actually awful. it goes from teachers to students, both making unacceptable comments and treating muslims unfairly. It’s gotten to a point where we can’t feel like a community because of how we’re perceived by people in our school"
"People started writing antisemitic things on the class board ... happened quite consistently in multiple classrooms. A lot of Jewish girls in the year came forward with photos (not that they should’ve been needed) and a list on names of who was doing it, all that happened was that [TEACHER] sent an email to form tutors to tell their students not to write on boards. ... I would come how from school crying multiple times a week"
EATING DISORDERS AND MENTAL HEALTH
"I was really struggling with food and exercise. [TEACHER] told me it’s nothing serious and to eat more and that I was 'naturally skinny so it didn’t matter' ... I was so weak I couldn’t walk up the stairs. My parents emailed the school because when I went back, I was surrounded by talk of calories and weight loss workouts etc and it was so triggering for me, but they emailed back saying there was no such issue, and to make sure that I would continue to do well in tests . Thankfully I’m a lot better now but I still resent the fact that the school did nothing but encourage my Ed and the disgusting culture. "
"it’s so easy to have a an eating disorder in this school it makes me sick. Half my brain wishes it was harder (the sensible half) the other wants it to be easier. ... The school doesn’t care about you. The teachers don’t, the kids don’t."
"I was reported to the school for self harm and was forced to go and see [TEACHER] ... they discussed all of my confidential information with other students in my year. They then let me go into the summer holidays with no support after I had told them that I wanted to kill myself"
"I was self harming and i tried to kill myself. I told [TEACHER] how and she grabs my wrist, looks at it and says, 'you’re fine don’t worry I’m not even going to try get you to stop because you aren’t in danger'. I tried to kill myself. I was in danger. to this day I still self harm and she didn’t help one bit so I lied that I was totally better so I didn’t have to go back"
"They really do not know how to handle mental health at all. When they discovered that I was harming they forced me to show them my scars (way to stress out someone who is already distressed) and just didn't actually direct me to the resources I needed to help handle things."
"we had a booklet in year 8 on like healthy bodies and stuff, and the whole book just PROMOTED eating disorders and calorie counting. on the literal first page we had to document what we had eaten the past day and then on the next page there was a table which had almost the ‘correct’ stuff to eat, as if we’re supposed to compare the two?"
"It’s so easy to have an ED in this school, they never look twice when people skip lunch or break. On the contrary it’s practically promoted. We counted the calories we ate vs burned in bio and the teachers always say 'if you don’t wanna be late to class just skip break' "
"I have an eating disorder ... some girls asked me if I wanted to join their pro-Ana Chat to share tips. A teacher was literally in front and heard, stared at me and just ignored it. ?!"
"the school made my eating disorder worse, they ... only cared if I was still able to do my work "
"in class they asked us to check our bmi (which is really inaccurate), count our calories over the next week for hwk ... girls with ed’s already have so much pressure at school and they definitely shouldn’t promote calorie counting"
MENTAL HEALTH MISEDUCATION
"in PSHCE for the ‘self harm’ module I legit didn’t know anything about it and I asked ‘why do people do that’ and [TEACHER] shrugged and was like I don’t know but I have to teach it to you"
"in pshce they try to tell us about eating disorders but they are saying completely incorrect information and as I’ve experienced I try to actually explain and I get told I’m all wrong and to stop talking"
"I literally have an ED and PSHCE in year 10 is so horrid to deal with as they don’t ask if anyone wants to sit out and I was trying not to blurt out the correct facts"
NEW UNIFORM RULES / SEXISM
"[TEACHER1] allowed me to wear a necklace that represented lgbtqia+ but this year ... [TEACHER2] comes up and says you need to take that off, I tell her that I’m allowed it and why and she makes this face at me and says “yeah, but we only allow religious items of jewellery""
"The new rules have prohibited the wear of lgbtq+ merch including pronoun badges which are so very helpful for trans and non-binary students becuase it’s so hard to explain to a room of uneducated people why you use different pronouns and what non-binary even is. There should be more education and pronoun and lgbtq badges allowed."
"making the sixth form dress code stricter when the boys join sends a VERY strong message to young girls about what we should wear if there are boys involved"
"mrs hardy should not be telling us to dress different just because there are now boys in our school. we should not be restricted to express ourselves and we should not be taught to be afraid ... women should not be taught that it is their fault and that the clothing they wear and how we express ourselves is the reason some men do what they do. and at school of all places? ... women should be taught to empower themselves and each other and the school is completely neglecting that."
As you can see from the examples the main issue is the fact that eating disorders are rife at Habs. It is virtually impossible to go a day without hearing someone saying how they are losing weight or talking about calories and yet the school does nothing. It is also virtually impossible to be unaware of the issue, an excuse us students have received before from staff. We appreciate that it will be difficult and a longer term change, but not enough is being done in terms of preventative measures and support, evident in the overwhelming proportion of girls struggling, or in tackling the disgusting and ubiquitous culture normalising eating disorders and self harm that could easily be argued to be the real 'Habs bubble'. Ironically, despite the disturbing prevalence of eating disorders and mental health issues at school, we aren't even educated about it correctly.
In regards to the other issues: We are aware that work is underway tackling racism, however we hope our responses may shed some more light on the situation at Habs. The impact of the uniform rules in regards to the LGBTQIA+ and the sexist ideas they suggest should be reconsidered. What kind of message is Habs sending out to the current and prospective students? It's certainly not a particularly inclusive, or female empowering one.
We hope we have enlightened you on some serious issues that are not being dealt with in Habs girls, and please sign our petition to help us students encourage the teachers that urgent and strong change is necessary.
Many thanks, Les Justiciers Verts.