There were no sex classes. No friendship classes. No classes on how to navigate a bureaucracy, build an organization, raise money, create a database, buy a house, love a child, spot a scam, talk someone out of suicide, or figure out what was important to me. Not knowing how to do these things is what messes people up in life, not whether they know algebra or can analyze literature.
On April 22, 16-year-old Kiera Wilmot was arrested at her Polk County high school for conducting a science experiment. The teen, who has no criminal history and maintained good grades, suddenly found herself trapped in Florida’s insidious school to prison pipeline; which has continually funneled mostly youth of color out of Florida’s schools and into the criminal justice system.
According to a report by Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice, over 57% of the state’s 96,515 youth incarcerated in 2012 were Black and Brown. In Kiera’s home of Polk County, Sheriff Grady Judd has presided over a system in which youth have continually been cycled through county jails in which severe abuses have been alleged including the use of pepper spray and the holding of juveniles in cages.
During the 2013 Florida Legislative Session, Dream Defenders worked with allies in the Florida Campaign for Juvenile Justice to reform Florida’s broken juvenile justice system. Despite repeated community visits to the state capital, briefings and press conferences by advocates and sponsoring legislators, the 2013 Legislative session closed with no action on critical bills such as SB 1374/HB 1039 which would have reformed Florida’s Zero Tolerance law at play in this case.
While Kiera navigates the legal ramifications of her unjust case Polk County Superintendent John Stewart has made the decision to place Kiera in an “alternative school” as he considers expulsion proceedings. Dream Defenders find these actions by Superintendent Stewart reprehensible. Dream Defenders demands that Stewart drop all expulsion proceedings against Kiera Wilmot and allow her to return to her enrollment at Bartow High School.
Dream Defenders calls upon all local, state and national allies to TAKE ACTION to ensure Kiera does not become another casualty of the school to prison pipeline.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Sign the petition to get Kiera back in school
- Spread these images by tweeting them, reblogging them and posting them on instagram.
- Contact Polk County Superintendent John Stewart by calling: (863) 534-0521
My name is _____________ and I am calling to express my concern about the expulsion proceedings against Kiera Wilmot. Florida has been among the national leaders in furthering a school to prison pipeline; with zero tolerance policies being used to lock up, expel and divert youth from their right to an education. Ms. Wilmot’s case is another example of the state and your office criminalizing and derailing the future of a girl of color. Your handling of her case has been irresponsible and reprehensible. Ms. Wilmot’s actions and intent simply do not warrant expulsion or placement in alternative schooling. I am calling on you to immediately drop all expulsion proceedings against Kiera Wilmot and allow her to return to her regular enrollment at Bartow High School.
In order to make an impact in this case we will need the support of thousands.
Please share this message with family and friends. Let’s ensure there is
lots of love this mother’s day for everyone who has a complex relationship with their mom, everyone who has ceased communication with their mom for reasons of self-preservation, and every person whose mom is deceased
I asked all of the gay male students in the room to raise their hand if in the past week they touched a woman’s body without her consent. After a moment of hesitation, all of the hands of the gay men in the room went up. I then asked the same gay men to raise their hand if in the past week they offered a woman unsolicited advice about how to “improve” her body or her fashion. Once again, after a moment of hesitation, all of the hands in the room went up.
These questions came after a brief exploration of gay men’s relationship to American fashion and women’s bodies. That dialogue included recognizing that gay men in the United States are often hailed as the experts of women’s fashion and by proxy women’s bodies. In addition to this there is a dominant logic that suggests that because gay men have no conscious desire to be sexually intimate with women, our uninvited touching and groping (physical assault) is benign.