Sexual Violence is an Epidemic in Loudoun County Public Schools

Loudoun County Public Schools is in the news yet again for mishandling sexual assaults. On February 2nd, Loudoun Circuit Court ordered a search warrant affidavit for surveillance cameras in Tuscarora High School regarding an incident that occurred in November when a student forcibly kissed another student four times. Loudoun County School Board has deferred questions regarding the handling of the situation citing “privacy laws.”

Sexual violence can feel shameful to speak about because of societal stigma, victim balming, and rape culture, which normalizes sexual assault. Sexual assault doesn’t just happen in a dark alley in a sketchy part of town. It happens here in Loudoun County. It happens at school, home, work, and parties. Sexual violence does not discriminate based on gender, age, race, or sexual orientation.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overheard conversations between peers at school that have made me feel negatively as a survivor. Some examples include:
“But wasn’t she wearing a really low cut top? I mean come on…”
“They probably wanted it.”

Being a survivor in a global community that normalizes this culture is incredibly difficult. It is infuriating to see perpetrators not held accountable for their actions, to watch numerous politicians accused of sexual misconduct hold their positions of power, and to hear my peers joke about a trauma that millions of people, including myself, have endured. If these actions aren’t condemned and corrected, the epidemic of sexual violence will never end.

There is so much potential for change, specifically in Loudoun County. This is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, and yet our public school sexual education courses are profoundly incomprehensive. Students are only required to take Family Life Education up until tenth grade. Sexual violence has become increasingly prevalent on college campuses, and that is why change must start in early education and especially be emphasized in high school. The current sexual violence curriculum lacks clarity and relevance; the instructional videos feature one dimensional actors with flip phones in outdated scenarios.

Students deserve quality education on consent and sexual violence. They deserve to know that consent is clear, coherent, reversible, and uncoerced. We must teach young people to recognize when these boundaries are being violated and to hold those who violate them accountable. Loudoun County Public Schools has the resources to be the leader in preventative education. They also have a responsibility to protect their students, and right now, they are letting us down.

If you or someone you know needs support, please take advantage of the resources below:

Woodgrove Counseling
*Please know that LCPS staff members are mandated reporters, which means they must report any sexual violence to administrators and law enforcement.

Loudoun Citizens For Social Justice/Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter
24/7 Hotline: 703-777-6552
[email protected]
LAWS 105 East Market St Leesburg, VA 20176
24/7 National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673