#metoo in MCPS: dozens of sexual assault and harassment claims shared over social media

By Mary Ma

Trigger warning: This article contains discussion of sexual assault.

Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 if you need assistance. Help is confidential and free.

After the widespread allegations against Harvey Weistein in 2017, the #MeToo movement came to being. Recently, the movement has hit close to home, with sexual harassment and assault claims posted over social media by students, alum and other citizens of Montgomery County.

Instagram accounts such as @survivorsatwootton, @survivorsatbcc, @metoomoco and others are posting anonymous student submitted allegations. While @survivorsatwootton is keeping the alleged perpetrators anonymous, @metoomoco is posting names of perpetrators and occasionally pictures in an effort to warn students.

The claims belong to many schools as well as workplaces. Blair, Wootton, Richard Montgomery, Paint Branch, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Quince Orchard, and Magruder are a few of the schools that the claims belong to. From unsolicited nudes to rape, the stories are alarming. Some allegations were also directed towards teachers.

On June 26th, MCPS superintendent Jack R. Smith responded to the allegations. In the letter, Smith said, “…all allegations involving our schools and/or students that come to our attention will be investigated.” In the statement, he also urges students and parents who “have information regarding an alleged sexual assault” to contact the Montgomery County Police Department.

In another community message sent out July 1st, Smith elaborates on MCPS initiatives over the last five years combating sexual assault. He states, “As an immediate next step, I have asked our Director of Student Welfare and Compliance/Title IX Coordinator to lead a process—involving all offices of our school system—to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted into each viable report, and to take the necessary steps in response to what we find.”

Administration across schools have responded in different ways. At Montgomery Blair High School, where the movement originated and gained significant traction, many students have called on Principal Renay Johnson via Twitter to respond. Johnson did not respond and instead, blocked a few vocal Blair students. 

Many petitions involving sexual assault in MCPS have also emerged online. One notable one is the Change.org petition to make a scheduling tool that prevents survivors being put into the same class as their abuser. The petition has over 15,000 signatures.

In an interview with @metoomoco over Instagram DM, they clarify aspects of the #MeToo movement in MCPS. Here’s what they said:

What is the purpose behind this initiative?

Our purpose is to provide a safe space for and amplify the voices of survivors in MCPS who have oftentimes been ignored (or worse) by their school and community.

How has the administration across MCPS responded to the cases?

So far, MCPS has released a statement about the sexual assault cases but it was fairly empty. Across many schools in the county, students have been silenced and belittled by the administration and teachers meant to help them. 

How have moco students responded?

The majority of moco students are very grateful to have this platform. Being believed and supported can be life-changing for some survivors. Of course, we receive some backlash from those accused and anonymous accounts.

Do you agree with the way MCPS has been handling sexual assault?

I think MCPS has done a poor job handling the sexual assaults. Before this, almost all cases were brushed under the rug. Survivors are often attacked or belittled by their own schools admin. I also think that MCPS largely missed the point in their letter. They asked people to share anonymous tips of SAs, something I disagree with since not every survivor may want to press charges. A survivor’s story should be their own.


Black Owned Businesses to Support

Compiled by Abby Adigun

In the spirit of the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Idea Magazine has compiled a list of various black owned businesses to support. This list will be updated periodically, and we, at the Idea Magazine, are open to suggestions!


Ben’s Chili BowlWashington D.C.https://benschilibowl.com/ 
Black Lion CafeRockville, Marylandhttps://blacklioncafe.com/ 
Nice N’ SpicySilver Spring, Maryland https://www.niceandspicyja.com/ 
Rainbow African RestaurantGaithersburg, Marylandhttps://www.rainbowafricanfood.com/ 
Silver Spring WingsSilver Spring, Marylandhttps://www.silverspringwings.com/ 
Bangin’ BBQFood Truckhttps://www.orderbanginbbq.com/ 
BLK & BoldOnlinehttps://blkandbold.com/ 

Clothing Brands

Sai Sankohhttps://saisankoh.com/ 
African Richhttps://www.africanrich.com/ 
Salyel Parishttps://www.salyelparis.com/ 
This Is Culturedhttps://thisiscultured.com/ 
Daily Paperhttps://www.dailypaperclothing.com/ 
Because Of Them We Canhttps://www.becauseofthemwecan.com/ 


Beauty Bakerie https://www.beautybakerie.com/pages/beta-home 
The Lip Barhttps://thelipbar.com/ 
FORM Beautyhttps://formbeauty.com/ 
25th and Junehttps://www.25thandjune.com/ 
Royal House of Wrapshttps://www.royalhouseofwraps.com/ 
Temple Zenhttps://yourtemplezen.com/ 

Black Media

Black Enterprisehttp://blackenterprise.com/ 
The Sourcehttp://thesource.com/ 
Black Planethttp://blackplanet.com/ 
Black Pasthttp://blackpast.org/ 
The Griohttp://thegrio.com/ 

Why I was afraid of Black

By Abby Adigun

Because it was in five letters 

That the beauty thriving in my ebony 

Pores who boasted the love of a dying sun

And a rising star, was put to rest before

My irises of immigrant hopes and aspirations

With a hint of fear.

I became no more than the color of smoke

That filled my neighbor’s home

Who had to watch the living memories of family

And love disappear before her very eyes


My individuality was stripped from me

With the whisper of a single


No longer was I the daughter of a Nigerian princess

And a Ghanian scholar

But a point in an argument,

A tragic statistic, and an error in history.

Even as I look at the word today,

Foreign on my own tongue yet too

Familiar to my ears, and a curiosity for 

A little boy who has begun to look 

Twice in the mirror,


Has risen from the ashes 

To be more,

To become 


Diversity In The Art Industry: Five Black Artists To Check Out

By Mary Ma

The high art market that resides in auction houses and museums has historically belonged to rich white men. Unfortunately, that trend still continues today; in a 2019 study featured in PLoS One, an analysis of more than 40,000 works of art in 18 major U.S. art museums’ online catalogues detailed that 85 percent of artists featured were white and 87 percent were men. African American artists occupied only 1.2 percent of art in all of the 18 museums featured in this study. When museums all over the country are trumpeting visions of diversity, why are people of color and womxn, still so underrepresented?

The underrepresentation of minorities in the museum and art auctioning space isn’t surprising when we look at the origins of museums itself. Many famous museums were designed originally as manor houses meant to show off the collections of the upper classes, much of which was dominated by white men. 

The historical oppression of minority voices continues to the categorical determination of what “high art” is.

The historical oppression of minority voices continues to the categorical determination of what “high art” is. For decades, continuing into now, artwork created by womxn and people of color were deemed as decorative art pieces. Quilts, pottery, and textile work, work associated with certain ethnicities or the domestic sphere were relegated to a “lesser” category of art in an effort to silence minorities and womxn. 

The odds, in any industry, including the art industry, are ultimately stacked against womxn and people of color, especially African Americans. Art museums should be spaces where people of all backgrounds feel welcome and represented. Museums need to make a conscious effort to truly represent historically unheard voices.

Here are some incredible Black Artists to Check out:

Faith Ringold: Faith Ringold is an African American painter, writer, mixed media and textile artist, and performance artist. She is also a dedicated civil rights and gender equality activist. Ringold is best known for her narrative quilts, which often focuses on denouncing racism and sexism. She aims to rewrite African American art history through her work, emphasizing family, roots and artistic collaboration. She has worked with many activist groups, including Womanhouse, a feminist art installation from the 1970s. See some more of her work on her website.

Faith Ringgold: an inherently political oeuvre
Faith Ringgold, The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, Color lithograph, Sheet: 22 x 30 inches (55.9 x 76.2 cm), 1996, © Faith Ringgold

Kara Walker: Kara Walker is an African American painter, sculptor and installation artist. Walker’s work covers a variety of issues including race, sexuality, gender, violence and identity. She is best known for her silhouette work, See more of her work on her website.

Kara Walker born 1969 | Tate
Kara Walker, Grub for Sharks: A Concession to the Negro Populace, 2004, © Kara Walker

Mark Bradford: Mark Bradford is an African American multimedia artist. Bradford works with collages, using found material scavenged from the streets to create large collage and installation pieces. His work moves with the city, responding to the impromptu happenings and abandoned public spaces that emerge.

Mixed media collage by Mark Bradford.
Mark Bradford, Bread and Circuses, 2007. Mixed-media collage on canvas, 133 x 253 in. (337.8 x 642.6 cm).

Amy Sherald: Amy Sherald is an African American painter based in Baltimore, Maryland. Her work mostly consists of portrait paintings. Sherald aims to expand the genre of American historical portraits to include the African American story. Check out more of her work on her website.

She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them
2018, 54 x 43 inches, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Amy Sherald

Ervin A. Johnson: Ervin A. Johnson is an African American mixed media artist based in Chicago. Johnson uses photo-based mixed media to explore his cultural identity. Check out more of his work on his website.

Ervin A. Johnson -#InHonor ⋆ In the In-Between
Ervin A. Johnson, J’La, 2016. Photo-based mixed media, 36×48″, ©Ervin A. Johnson.

“For Gun Control” vs. “Against Gun Violence”

By Helena Aytenfisu

What does the world think of when they hear “The United States of America”? One would hope they would think of wealth, opportunity, and individualism. Unfortunately, in today’s world, the U.S. name bears a heavy weight.

Mass shootings and daily gun violence plague the nation, leaving the American dream as a far away ideal. Many are quick to condemn these horrendous events, but we have seen a lack of action on the behalf of Congress. This sparks the question, should we be against gun violence or for gun control.

First, let’s clarify the difference. Those who are against gun violence span both aisles, and no one has any problems expressing their contempt for such atrocious actions. Those who are in favor of gun control believe that universal background check laws and stricter gun laws could help prevent these tragedies in the future. This dichotomy is not something that is solely specific to the issue of gun control. It is far easier to be against a universally bad thing than it is to be in favor of something, but how much progress can come from merely being against something? Being against gun violence is palatable: people won’t think you are an ideologue or radical, but is it helpful?

Current events would indicate that it is not, as it is this cycle of condemning these events, yet failing to take any action, that is leading this problem to persist. In a 2018 Gallup poll, 61% of Americans expressed that they are in favor of stricter gun laws, yet nothing has changed.

LGBT teens need a voice in sexual education

By Mary Ma

When Cartoon Network aired Korra’s lesbian relationship with Asami in The Legend of Korra, parents lashed out at the channel, claiming it was “inappropriate” for children. The only scene to air was a kiss, much like the one Cinderella shares with Prince Charming in the G-rated movie, Cinderella. These same objections runs through many educators’ minds as they create health curriculums. We all remember the diagrams of ovaries and fallopian tubes, the grainy videos of abstinent straight couples, but most of us don’t remember a system that doesn’t assume heterosexuality, questions the gender binary and addresses LGBTQ+ relationships. Most of us don’t know a curriculum that is truly inclusive. In this rapidly changing world, sex education is stuck in the past.

It’s reasonable to assume that middle school and high school health are perfect places to introduce LGBTQ+ relationships and identities. But these issues aren’t a part of the system for a reason. There are seven states that have no promo homo laws, laws preventing the promotion of homosexuality in health education. Many of these state laws require teachers to portray the LGBTQ+ community in a negative light, to prevent kids from “becoming gay.”

Educators need to realize that being queer is not contagious. The superstition of LGBTQ+ people being “infected” is very present in our society, especially in media. By this logic there shouldn’t be a LGBTQ+ community at all. Despite being force-fed pop culture portraying only straight, cisgender characters all their childhood, gay kids are still gay, trans kids are still trans. This misconception and lack of representation only serves to tell these kids that what they are feeling is wrong.

For many students struggling with gender and sexual identity, school is an everyday battlefield.

So, what happens to these kids? For many students struggling with gender and sexual identity, school is an everyday battlefield. The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that lesbian, gay, or bisexual U.S. teens were bullied on school property three times more often than their straight peers. LGBTQ+ students face this vicious social situation alongside confusion about identity, relationships and other topics for which straight kids have an arsenal of resources. Fighting both institutional and social rejection, it’s no wonder that LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide.

Media and society are already unfriendly to the queer community. Lack of inclusion in health education is salt on the wound. As a confused teen, I remember how alienated I felt in middle school, where not even the school curriculum that constantly preached about diversity acknowledged my existence. I remember how afraid I was of my classmates knowing, of my teachers knowing. Schools need to teach every teen about remaining safe and healthy. Stop the silent suffering of queer teens.

Inhale Exhale

By Claire Gelillo

Every day’s a new day

New horizon but the same fate

We the people

But we the weak

We the ones who can’t take the heat

We the ones who stand for the machine over the man

The man over the woman

The abuse with gun in hand

Face over body after body

After body


After the fact that we’re struggling just to stay intact

Then we take flight

We breathe and let it go

But we know

The bright light

Is just a reminder of all we failed

It’s the end of a tunnel that we can’t seem to escape

But the bones crack and break

Under pressure

We rise and we fall

The last breath in the high school hall

We inhale with no exhale

We feel the heat

We stand shoulder to shoulder

But what solution do we meet

We write the letters and cry the chants

But we fall at their feet

We beg for a chance we never had

And maybe we’re glad

Because what excuse do we have

We drank the last drop of hope

Last time we heard of mass destruction

Mass killing

Mass eruptions

Of the things we can’t control

And they call us bold

For saying that something’s wrong

But then hang up the phone

They put us down lock us up

Chain them up

Hands up

Until not a hand remains raised

And we boil with rage

Nobody left to stir the pot

But the cries remain

Ringing out into the night

Not a second to waste

But we breathe

Inhale Exhale

Another body on the ground

Immigration versus 21 Savage

By Anjali Natarajan

Recently, rapper 21 Savage has been in the news, and it is not for his music. After being detained by Immigration and threatened with deportation, he, along with his fan base, has been uncertain about his own future. His story sheds light on all the moving parts of immigration right now, as well as how his voice can help others in the same position.

The rise to fame with 21 Savage was with his mix tape, The Slaughter Tape, released in 2015. Since then, his singles and collaborations with artists like Post Malone have risen quite high, if not number one, on the charts. With this success, however, came scrutiny as well. The 26 year-old’s car was pulled over by Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents on February 3 in Atlanta, Georgia. DEA then gave him to U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officials, and ICE started papers for deportation on the grounds of overstaying a visa that had expired in 2006. 21 Savage’s massive audience found out that he was not originally from Atlanta, as they had believed; rather, he was an immigrant from the United Kingdom. Currently, his proceedings are on hold, and no one is aware of when they might continue.

This story is reminiscent of many immigrants with the same issues, though 21 Savage has a bigger platform than many to speak about the problems that he and others face. With this platform, many activists are hoping that he can bring a new awareness and potentially even change to what they see as a broken system. According to Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, “much of how we are trained to think about immigration issuers in this country is that it’s a Latin X issue. Black immigrants are more likely to be detained than any other immigrant group solely because of their blackness.”

21 Savage is unlikely to be deported, as he has three U.S. born children and multiple members of his immediate family that are either citizens or lawfully residing. He also has been living in the U.S. for about 13 years and has taken steps to obtain a U visa before he was detained. Still, he says that his ICE detention was worse than when he went to jail, because with ICE there was a sense of “not knowing what was going to happen, or when it’s going to happen”.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Calling for change in mental health education

By Sabrina Mei and Mary Ma

I sit in my seat, surrounded by three people I don’t know, palms sweaty as the teacher facilitating our community discussion asks us to talk about some of the mental health struggles we face as teenagers. Visibly uncomfortable, the girl across from me makes a sarcastic quip about the scenario, about how she’d much rather get a free period to just relax. We both laugh and I jokingly agree. But there’s a truth to what she said. The presentation given was impersonal and cold, providing no clear answers, no warning signs, no information about crisis control. Our school is afraid of cutting to the chase, of truly asking what we, as a student body, need.

Almost every student that I interviewed said that they thought the greatest source of stress in their life was academics.

Almost every student that I interviewed said that they thought the greatest source of stress in their life was academics. The never-ending loads of assignments, the impending doom of college applications, the pressure of excelling in schools and extra curriculars, the unsettling anxiety of assessments, teachers and administrators don’t seem to understand the constant pressure that students are under in school. In an attempt to be more proactive, RM had asked us what we thought the most important topics of conversation should be brought up in discussion, and we said gun control, race and mental health. After these discussions, MCPS may think that their involvement in this issue is done, and that their solution is sufficient, but mental health is still a daily challenge to many youths, and will continue to be if schools continue to be reactionary and don’t take initiative.

I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to a friend say “I literally want to kill myself.” Sentiments of depression and suicide seem to be inherently linked to school. The internet has popularized self-deprecating and dark humor, and these sayings are taken as such, hiding the increasing amount of mental health issues that each student deals with. It’s a self defense mechanism, a way to hide depression, to turn it into humor, into sarcasm, but the underlying truth is that the students are not okay, and these “community discussions” are only a band-aid on a much deeper wound.

So what prompted these community discussions? In 2017, our county saw at least 5 teen suicides. When these happened, students and parents were baffled. Why was there a surge? Why did it happen? How could something like this happen in a community as sheltered and suburban as ours? Students started to post hearts on social media. For a few weeks, Instagram and Snapchat were flooded with different colored hearts for each incident. But pretty soon, people started to forget.

It is this tendency to forget that, in the end, hurts us the most. We see these tragedies in news headlines, and while we may feel sympathy for the two minutes that we spend reading through the article, there is an inherent divide that exists when approaching this topic. No one likes to immerse themselves in the reality of the issue, so rather than accepting its weight, we treat it as something separate, something that isn’t our problem. Yet, this mentality is wrong, and it is only becoming increasingly apparent that the issue of mental health among youths is our problem.

We flare up for a few months, posting hearts and condolences, offering our support over the cold front of social media, but none of us choose to take initiative.

10.7% of young people in the US, ages 12 to 17, have experienced a major depressive episode, which amounts to approximately 8,659 youth in Montgomery County. 30% of students in Maryland reported experiencing symptoms of depression. 13% reported at least one major depressive episode, and 17% reported seriously considering suicide. These statistics are terrible, but what may be even more startling is how numb we have become to these reports. Even when suicides occur in our community, we eventually brush them off. We flare up for a few months, posting hearts and condolences, offering our support over the cold front of social media, but none of us choose to take initiative. After a few heartfelt Instagram posts, we remain unchanged, while the family members of the victims are left to grieve.

Ever since the surge of suicides, the Board of Education has been continuously adopting mental health as a major concern in their yearly legislative agenda, often speaking of making counselors and psychologists more accessible, and resources more available to students. Yet we still haven’t seen much change. Counselors are overloaded with college recommendations and schedule changes from hundreds and hundreds of students, psychologists are almost nonexistent, and resources are not passed out. Suicides and self harm may not get as much press coverage as in 2017, but these incidents have not stopped. High school is confusing. Teens are especially vulnerable to mental illnesses with pressure from school, friends and family, while trying to figure out their own identity. The statistics show that we need to step it up.

In order to truly create change in how our system chooses to deal with mental health, we have to increase our own awareness and realize that we are the key to change. The members of the Board of Education don’t go to school. We are the only ones with experience, we are the only ones that know. Go to community Board of Education meetings, talk to the SMOB, sign petitions (such as the one I linked below). Make your voice heard!