Definition of Terms

What is discrimination?

Treating individuals differently, or interfering with or preventing them from enjoying the advantages or privileges afforded to others because of their membership or targeted/perceived membership in a protected category.

Examples include (but not limited to):

  1. Disparities in access to educational programs, including extra-curriculars, honor societies and classes.

  2. Disparities in discipline, including severity of consequences for misbehavior.

  3. Disparities in the application of school policies, such as dress code enforcement or congregating in informal spaces

What is harassment?

Harassment based on membership in a protected category is a form of prohibited discrimination. Oral, written, graphic, electronic or physical conduct relating to an individual’s actual or perceived membership in a protected category that has a negative impact on a student and interferes with or limits that individual’s ability to participate in the school unit’s programs or activities by creating a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment.

Examples include (but not limited to):

  1. Teasing or joking about a person based on their identity that continues after the accused has been asked to stop

  2. Using racial epithets or images.

  3. Threatening a person with violence if they don't conform to particular ways of expressing their gender identity (note : threats of violence can also be criminal violations under Maine's Hate Crime laws)

Harassment that rises to the level of physical assault, battery and/or abuse, and/or bullying behavior is also addressed in Board Policies JICIA – Weapons, Violence and School Safety and JICK – Bullying.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a broad term that includes various forms of unwanted conduct of sexual nature. It can take many forms, including but not limited to -

  • Cyber - Sexual harassment through the use of technology.

  • Identity Based - Characterized by prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination towards a target based on sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion or disability.

  • Physical - Any unwanted contact, touching, physical interference with free movement, and assault.

  • Verbal - Sexually suggestive comments, sounds, jokes, spreading rumors.

  • Visual or written - Display/circulation of material that degrades an individual.

What is the difference between sexual harassment and flirting?

Flirting is a positive and playful interaction that is reciprocated mutually between parties, whereas sexual harassment is characterized by unwanted attention and actions.

What is assault ?

Assault is any kind of unwanted physical contact. This includes but is not limited to, invading space, boxing someone in physically, hair touching/pulling, pinching, tickling, etc.

Sexual assault is characterized by unwanted sexual touching or physical contact, including groping, kissing, slapping body parts, removing clothes, physical contact with genitals.

These are considered criminal acts.

What is consent ?

Consent is an agreement between willing participants to engage in an activity. Everyone has different physical boundaries, the only way to make sure needs are being met and boundaries are being respected is to ask and make sure participants are expressing mutual, enthusiastic, un-impared consent.

What is rape?

Rape is any contact or activity involving penetration without mutual consent. Rape is often categorized as compulsion (physical force and threats), coercion (emotional pressure or manipulation), impaired consent (the presence of drugs and alcohol).

What is cyber harassment?

Cyber harassment is the use of digital communication, technology, and social media to harass and threaten. To learn more about what is characterized as cyber harassment, check out the Online Harassment Field Manual.

What is sexual exploitation?

Sexual exploitation is the exchange of sexual acts for anything of value, for example money, drugs, shelter. In these interactions, an individual is being coerced and/or manipulated into the situation.

What is sex trafficking ?

Sex trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud, or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a sexual act. A commercial act includes pornography, prostitution, and sexual performance in exchange for anything of value. Learn more about what is and is not trafficking and how to end it here.

What does the 'age of consent' mean ?

The age of consent refers to the age that an individual can legally provide consent. The age of consent in Maine is 16. However, the "Romeo and Juliet" law allows 14 and 15 year olds to legally consent to sexual activity with anyone less than 5 years older than themselves. Sexual contact with anyone under 14 is unlawful, as they are too young to provide consent.

A 16 year old can legally provide consent to sexual activity with anyone 14 and older, however, if the participant is more than 10 years older, the sexual activity is illegal and is considered statutory rape.

What is statutory rape?

Statutory rape is when an adult engages in consensual sexual activity with someone under the age of 18, wherein the adult is at least 10 years older. This is considered a class D crime, and the adult will face fines, jail time, and being registered as a sex offender.

If an adult engages in forcible, coerced, or intoxicated sexual activity with someone under the age of 18, it is considered a class A fine, punishable by up to 40+ years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine, as well as a lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Is sexual violence a crime?

Sexual violence, or unwanted sexual advances, violate civil, and/or criminal laws. The Maine criminal code defines it as any sexual activity initiated with the intent of; causing bodily injury, offensive physical contact, or for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire. These acts are organized by the severity of the crime, Class A being the maximum, Class E being the minimum.

How do I respond to sexual harassment or assault?