Madison Educator’s Union: Statement Regarding Supreme Court’s Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

June 24, 2022

Madison Teachers Incorporated

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will go down as an explicit condoning of authoritarianism, toxic masculinity, and outright hostility towards any human being with a uterus.

Madison Teachers Inc.’s Board of Directors decries this decision not just for rolling back people’s rights to our state’s 1849 abortion ban, but for opening the door to an erosion of rights far beyond personal health care decisions.

Our education system, as a function of the community, is deeply impacted by the state of our democracy, including all laws and decisions made outside of our buildings. Students, staff, and families understand we do not operate in an equitable and just system, both at school and within the community. Due to implicitly and explicitly accepted norms, whether because of racism, sexism, ableism, classism, or intersections of all forms of bias and discrimination, Dobbs will further exacerbate an already fraught culture and climate. Sexual harassment of students and staff in hallways, classrooms, bathrooms, and all protected spaces have been increasing in the last decade because it has been normalized and MMSD’s Behavior Education Plan has not adequately protected people who identify as female or non-binary and does little to affect change in behaviors. This is unacceptable.

Today’s SCOTUS decision ties directly to feelings of safety in our schools for staff and students. We have experienced the outrage that comes from addressing unchecked sexual assaults in our schools, and additionally the toxic backlash to people speaking up. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is suing our district because employees are doing everything possible to help their LGBTQIA+ students and staff feel safe. Assaults on lessons and discussions around race, gender identity, sexual identity, and consent are being made taboo even in a “progressive” community like Madison and now we are seeing an erosion in people’s rights to even hold space and provide materials for these discussions. All of these in addition to today’s ruling only institutionalizes what people that identify as women are already feeling – unsafe, unprotected, and unsupported in the schools and a community that promises them the exact opposite.

Therefore, our Union, our school district, and our community must take concrete steps to counter today’s ruling:
• Explicit support for all MMSD (Madison Metropolitan School District) employees who work in Student Services, Health Services, and other areas where students seek support for personal bodily decisions.

• Improving our curricula around consent, bodily autonomy, and other freedoms impacted by patriarchal constructs in our systems.

• Ensuring our educators have the support and freedom they need to teach students to be critical participants in democracy who know their rights, the obstacles to those rights, how to advocate for those rights, and be allies in supporting the rights of others in their communities.

• Public and aligned support for Planned Parenthood, Women’s Medical Fund Wisconsin, and organizations dedicated to the health and support of all people with uteruses.

We have strength in numbers and power in our united voices to join in solidarity with those affected by today’s ruling.

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