It’s a good thing that the allegations against Harvey Weinstein have led to a broader mobilization against sexual assault and sexual harassment and greater attention to the problem as it exists throughout American society — including the legislature.
When women stand up to point out those abuses, I applaud their bravery and I cringe for their pain. My discomfort is for what they have gone through, not for how it reflects on the institution I represent.
Certainly I want the assembly to be better, to do better. That is why I have fought to elect more women to this house.
I go through harassment training every session, like every other person in the assembly. We have been adamant about making that training take place in person – not as a computerized throwaway exercise, as it elsewhere. It is our policy that everyone who knows about harassment has a responsibility to speak out and we are firm that there cannot be retaliation.
But clearly we need to do more to create a culture where women can comfortably report cases of harassment and there is a strong support system in place for staffers who do report abuse.
We will keep moving forward, especially through the Rules Subcommittee on Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation Prevention & Response, which was established in June to provide a focus on these critical issues.
My hope is we will continue to develop policies that can serve as best practices that help stop sexual harassment wherever it exists.