Why we don’t talk about sexual violence against boys — and why we should.

February 25, 2021

On February 28, the Washington Post magazine will include an in-depth story from reporter Emma Brown – excerpted from her upcoming book To Raise a Boy.   The article includes prominent coverage of Adele Kimmel’s Title IX work at Public Justice. Our attorneys Stanley Marks and Richard Traulsen, have a decades-long commitment to Public Justice.  


Adele has worked closely with Emma, over the course of more than a year, to help explain how Title IX, and the Students’ Civil Rights Project’s work, impact students across the country. One excerpt that includes Adele’s quote and underscores her growing reputation as a national authority on these issues (or, as the Post says, “one of the leading lawyers” helping students who have been sexually assaulted):


“The language we use to describe what happens to boys helps feed the problem, argues Adele Kimmel, who has become one of the leading lawyers for male and female victims of sexual assault. “Terminology matters,” Kimmel, a wiry woman with jet-black hair, told me on a rainy day in downtown Washington at the sleek offices of the nonprofit firm Public Justice, where she is a senior attorney. “Some of these boys don’t even recognize that they’ve been sexually assaulted because it’s been normalized by the adults. They call it these euphemistic terms – they call it horseplay, roughhousing, poking, hazing. They don’t call it sexual assault. They don’t call it rape.


Kimmel represented an Oklahoma middle schoolboy who was in music class when one of his football teammates held him down and assaulted him. The principal called it horseplay but acknowledged in an interview with a state investigator that if the same thing had happened to a girl, he would have considered it sexual assault. The boy was branded as a tattletale for reporting what had happened to him and became the target of fierce bullying at school. His father asked for help. ‘What do you want me to do, hold his hand?’ the principal said, according to the lawsuit the family later filed.”


The story in Sunday’s magazine – can be found in its entirety online here.  I hope you will consider reading the article and using it to introduce more people to the important work the Students’ Civil Rights Project is doing.  Emma Brown’s forthcoming book, which includes her interview with Adele, is also available for pre-order here.


Begam Marks & Traulsen have been long-time supporters of Public Justice, with members of the firm having served on the National Board of Directors continuously for more than 25 years.  We encourage everyone to support the work of Public Justice.