No means no! Fed up students are standing up and speaking out on sexual assault at Rome Free Academy.

Faith Mackenzie, a 12th grader at RFA, organized a peaceful protest at the school after she says she was sexually assaulted on the school bus. "It traumatized me and took 4 months for me to say anything about it."

Students Speak Out

Once Faith was strong enough to tell her truth, she first reported it to the Rome Police, who investigated but couldn't release details since juveniles were involved. Then she did something to help others who may be suffering like she was. "I wanted to let other girls like me know it’s okay to tell their story and use their voices."

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Credit - Faith Mackenzie
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Make School Safe

Those voices were finally heard during the protest that hundreds of students took part in at RFA, including 11th grader Devanne Ryleigh. "The protest was not to be disruptive or disrespectful. It was to make the point that for years we have been told school is a safe place for us and we no longer feel safe there."

Emily Brown agreed. "Enough is enough. We shouldn’t have to be afraid to say something because we think nothing will be done about it."

Be the Change

Many girls stood up and told their own truths during the protest. "I got so many messages saying I inspired them and I made them feel safe," said Faith. "I felt less alone and I'm so proud to know I’m making a change."

Credit - Faith Mackenzie
Credit - Faith Mackenzie
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Change is happening too. Officials spoke with Faith and Devanne about how to solve the problems in the school and prevent them from happening in the future. "There will be a meeting held with the principal, a few advisers, and some of the females who spoke at the protest to set up a time so all the females can voice their opinions and feelings on the subject matter," said Devanne.

We've reached out to Peter Blake, Rome Superintendent of Schools, and are waiting to hear back.

Rome Police say a fight did occur during the protest but it was separate and unrelated to the protest.

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