It's been nearly three years since Karyl Ketchum battled district administrators in court after football players at Corona Del Mar High threatened to shoot and rape her then-17-year-old daughter, the lead actress in the school's production of “Rent.” Ketchum enlisted the help of the ACLU to file a lawsuit suit “over a sexist and homophobic atmosphere that officials permitted to flourish at the school”–and won. As part of the settlement agreement, Newport-Mesa Unified School District was ordered to provide mandatory training for staff and students on sexism and homophobia and the procedures for handling complaints.
Today, Ketchum believes the training was successful, though her work isn't complete. As an assistant professor for women's and gender studies at Cal State Fullerton, she helped develop a unique online course at the university, “Understanding and Addressing Bullying.” Kevin O'Grady, the executive director of LGBT advocacy group The Center OC, will be the instructor for the one-credit, five-week class, which begins this summer.
The material is geared for teachers and administrators, and will address topics such as: What are the predictors of bullying behavior? What's the difference between bullying and cyberbullying? What's the role and responsibility of public educators regarding bullying?
“The experience of seeing how a school can turn itself around once the people involved at the school . . . get a little bit of education was really a profound experience for me and my family,” Ketchum told campus newspaper Daily Titan. “Maybe we can prevent these cases of bullying before they happen, as opposed to being reactive.”