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Letter: When confronting sexual harassment, the focus should be on those who are impacted

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2018 file photo, a marcher carries a sign with the popular Twitter hashtag #MeToo used by people speaking out against sexual harassment as she takes part in a Women's March in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

If you are accused of sexual harassment, do not respond, as Sen. Gene Davis did recently: “It was never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable.” Your intention is utterly irrelevant. In the law, unwelcome sexual advances are judged solely from the perspective of the person who is the target of those advances.

If you are a school administrator, take note. In Cedar City, a male student threatened to carry out a “rape day” targeting female students. The boy announced his intent on social media, telling the girls, “You can run. But you can’t hide.” School administrators tweeted in response, “There is no viable threat to the safety of our students from this post.” While the tweet may well reflect the school district’s position, this pat statement wholly discounts the fear experienced by the targeted girls.

We must do better than this. Let’s keep the focus where it belongs, on those impacted by bad behavior. Their humanity should drive our response.

Joanne Slotnik, Salt Lake City

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