Mrs. Katie Kelley helping to raise awareness for sexual violence


Submitted Photo

Kelley posing for a picture at Freddy Hill with her family.

TOWAMENCIN- Amazing individuals rarely get enough attention. They’re people who choose not to broadcast their good deeds because they do it from the heart. They’re people who make you want to believe there are still great people in the world. They’re people like North Penn High School Health and Physical Education teacher and as well as the Various Voices Club advisor Katie Kelley who is an inspiration to the younger generation.

Being a major advocate against sexual violence and knowing a few victims herself, Kelley strives to change the climate at North Penn High School.

“I feel like talking about sexual violence and trying to make more people aware of more issues around sexual violence and in this climate that we’re in with Me Too and Time’s Up that students very much so want to see that change. I feel like I just helped facilitate that,” mentioned Kelley.

Kelley began advising for the Various Voices Club earlier this year and since then, the club has grown significantly and has brought so many topics that would be considered taboo to light at North Penn High School.

“The students brought to me ‘these are what we care about’ and it just so happens that I care about those things too. One thing was violence towards women so knowing Jess Rice from Victim Services who we did a lot of work with this year and already knowing her and having a relationship with her through Health and Phys. Ed. and for everything she’s done for us, I said to them, ‘would you like me to reach out to her’ and it kind of turned into our baby this year,” said Kelley.

“The club focuses on women’s issues and women having equal rights. That would be the club’s ultimate message. Just talking about women’s issues and coming together to have a place to discuss women’s issues and feel safe talking about it. There’s been times we’ve just met and had conversations about what reading in the news and how we feel about that and how it relates to us as women,” added Kelley.

Sexual Violence became the main topic discussed by Various Voices throughout this entire year because the workshops held in January became successful hits for students. Many had a lot to say about the topic itself and thought it would be great to educate the school about it.

“I think it empowered them to want to do more,” commented Kelley.

Having some friends and students come out to her as a sexual assault survivor, Kelley felt like the idea of bringing awareness about sexual assault to the school will allow for significant changes.

“I think we all know women who are sexual assault survivors. We as women grow up having people make fun of women for going to the bathroom together. But that’s what we’re taught. You don’t go somewhere alone. You always take a friend with you somewhere. Those aren’t things that are taught to men. Just like I am aware that as a white person, my parents did not teach me how to behave being pulled over by a police officer but I do know that in African-American communities, it has been shared with me that they are taught how to behave being pulled over by a police officer because they had different experiences. As women walking through this world, we are taught how to protect ourselves from assault more so than men are just as African-Americans are taught how to protect themselves from people in positions of government more so than white people. I think there is a cultural shift happening where it’s ‘hey women, you shouldn’t have to protect yourself. Men, it’s time that you change your behavior,’” Kelley explained.

Kelley stresses the importance of making good choices directly affects our future. One decision can impact you for the rest of your life.

“In general, certainly as a health educator, it’s about making healthy decisions and healthy choices. Our choices impact us and as well as others. Just making sure that we make healthy choices that impact yourself and others positively. I think it’s about living your best and most healthy life whether that’s your physical health, your social health, or your mental/emotional health. The choices you make can impact you for the rest of your life. I hope that I model the behavior for students and also acknowledge the mistakes that I’ve made. I want kids, students, and club members all to live their best lives. I want them to be happy, healthy, and safe,” said Kelley.

No matter how different our views are, we are lucky to have our voices heard. Working with students who are deeply passionate about standing up for their rights and speaking their minds has made Kelley proud to even help encourage that.

“What I tell students in my classes, whether we agree politically or don’t agree politically, I hope you live longer than me. I’m older and I’m voting. My parents are voting and my grandparents are voting. I hope we all die before you do because that’s how it’s supposed to be. I want you to go out there and be politically active because it’s affecting you so whether we agree or don’t agree, I think it’s great that you get out there and vote and educate yourselves and get politically active because all the choice that we adults are making are going to impact you longer than they impact us. I think it’s phenomenal and I love how active everybody’s getting. I love that there’s this passion for thinking about your future and realizing that you have a voice and that you can take action,” said Kelley.

When asked what feminism meant to Kelley, her immediate response was simply “equality.”

“It’s not better, not hating others, not hating men or anyone, it’s just everyone is equal and really making sure it’s intersectional. It’s not just a man or woman issue, ability versus disability, race, ethnicity or race, it’s a multifaceted issue,” explained Kelley.