The administration took action to punish the creators of a list ranking senior girls based on appearance and offered support to students through meetings and a speaker following an investigation of the chart after it was shared on social media Saturday, April 17.
According to a statement released by the administration addressing the situation, the three boys involved in creating the chart completed the remainder of the school year online and were prohibited from participating in any senior activities including prom and graduation.
The statement said the chart was created in June 2020 and was later leaked to social media by a third party.
Senior Sophie Jones said that the list was a tiered ranking which put the girls in different categories such as “disgusting garbage person” and “horse.”
Principal Kristin Robbins said that the school was made aware of the chart after receiving many emails from students. Her first reaction to the news was to figure out the truth about what happened so they could deal with the issue, she said.
“We wanted to find out exactly what was being reported to us and what exactly were the facts around the situation…while making sure that everyone was safe and taken care of,” she said.
In order to address any mental health or self-esteem issues that could have arisen from the ranking, the statement said the high school has been providing support systems for the girls involved, such as small group discussions and counseling.
Robbins explained that she and interim Superintendent Dan Good held two meetings in the days following the incident. At one meeting, the girls were able to ask questions and have them answered, she said. In the other meeting, 21 female teachers and counselors led the senior girls in group discussions about their feelings resulting from the chart, Robbins added.
“We wanted them to see how much support there was for them, specifically from female teachers here in the building,” she said.
In addition to the meetings, the high school invited national Internet safety speaker Jesse Weinberger to present to students in each grade, Robbins said.
“We definitely think that this is a good jumping off point, and then we want to go back to students and see what they think and what types of education or thoughts that they have from not only senior women but all students,” she said.
However, senior Jaden Lumpkins thinks the speaker was counterproductive because she promoted victim blaming and “being a better criminal” instead of condemning the boys who made the chart.
“I thought it was a very underwhelming and poorly executed way of handling the issue without addressing the true cause of the incident, which was sexism and misogyny,” she said.
Lumpkins said that the ranking was extremely hurtful to her and the other girls in the seniors class.
“I think a lot of people felt very objectified and uncomfortable being compared to their fellow classmates,” she said. “It’s embarrassing and frustrating to be caught in the middle of such public drama, especially when it’s a ranking of how you look, which is something a lot of people probably feel self-conscious about.”
Jones said that even though she and other girls tried to not care about the chart, it inevitably affected them.
“My friends and I could not stop talking about it,” she said. “Even if we had said that we didn’t care that we were on that chart, we did and it hurt.”
The list was especially harmful for those who already have low self-esteem, she added.
“For some of the girls, this chart unfortunately seemed to ‘confirm’ their own negative opinions about themselves,” she said.
Lumpkins said she is glad the school decided to take away the boys’ senior privileges as a consequence for their actions.
“Many of us were worried that they would just be forced to apologize and let off with a warning,” Lumpkins said.
This will be a good way to help prevent something like this from happening again, she added.
“I think Bexley culture is often too forgiving of offenses like these where girls are being harassed or objectified,” Lumpkins said. “There needs to be clear, strict punishments in place so that people know that this behavior will not be tolerated.”
Overall, Lumpkins said she hopes the girls on the list realize their worth is not defined by their position on the chart or by their appearance at all.
“In my opinion, the way someone looks is generally the least interesting thing about them and does not have anything to do with their personality or intellect,” she said. “Every single person on the list is worth so much more than that.”