The Problem

In 2009, over 13 percent of Maine high school students reported that they had been forced to have sexual contact in their lifetime (18 percent of females, 9 percent of males). Fifteen percent do not agree with the statement "I feel safe at my school." Over 10 percent report having been harassed or attacked at school because of their perceived masculinity or femininity.

Almost 20 percent (24 percent of females, 15 percent of males) have been the target or offensive sexual comments at school or on the way to or from school.

School climate plays a crucial role in students' safety and their ability to learn effectively. The good news is that there are steps that we can take to improve school climate and reduce gender stereotypes and gender-based violence.

A young person looking sad
The Solution
A diverse group of young people

The Backbone Zone project is an innovative approach to bystander intervention, and is about helping people recognize the actions that everyone can take to change the world they live in.

Recognizing sexist and homophobic language, realizing that it has an impact, encouraging students to choose different words, and giving them the skills to be active bystanders when

they hear sexist and homophobic language: these are steps that each one of us can take to end gender-stereotypes, and to help end sexual violence.

Everybody has a backbone. The Backbone Zone project is a campaign that speaks directly to students, helping them to find—and use—their backbones.