Bellarmine Broads blog: Boys rated female teachers’ looks, attractiveness online

February 13, 2018 — by Lina Kim, Claire Rhee, Kyle Wang and Sophia Zivanic
Photo by Elaine Fan

An anonymous blog by the name of Bellarmine Broads rated female teachers at Bellarmine College Preparatory

Most Bellarmine students have reacted positively to the administration’s efforts, but Hayden — the former Bellarmine student who now attends SHS — remains skeptical.

Editor’s note: Gardner and Taylor are pseudonyms used to protect the anonymity of the teachers from Bellarmine College Preparatory.

Additionally, The Falcon tried to contact the blog’s creator, but was unable to find his contact information — the blog was published anonymously.

When senior Gabby Smullen of Presentation High School stumbled upon an anonymous blog called Bellarmine Broads on Dec. 23, she immediately told her friends about it. The blog was public but had not drawn much attention or criticism despite its purpose: rating the attractiveness of the female teachers at the Catholic all-boys high school Bellarmine College Preparatory.

The blog originated last February and contains explicit descriptions of erotic fantasies about 10 female Bellarmine teachers and staff members submitted and posted by students or alumni of the school.  

Before the blog was taken down in late January, The Falcon was able to take screenshots of some posts on the site.

One excerpt read: “It’s not something that everyone at Bell openly talks about, but it’s certainly there. Whether it’s just a normal day in the classroom and Ms. Gardner is walking to her class in a short skirt or it’s a dress up day which means Ms. Taylor has a blouse showing just a bit more cleavage than normal, one thing is clear: there’s some hot teachers at Bell. This website is dedicated to categorizing and debating all these things into one place. And yes, to the couple guys reading this that are appalled, just close the tab now. Go Bells.”

Other posts are much more explicit and degrading. In addition to erotic posts, a chart rates 10 female teachers on campus on a scale of 1 to 10 based on their physical features.

In the comments section of the blog, other students were anonymously encouraging sexual fantasies about their female teachers.

Kristina Luscher, Bellarmine’s principal, expressed her sadness and disappointment about the blog in an interview with The Falcon.

“I’ve been here 18 years — three years as principal — and I have not faced anything like this before,” Luscher said.


Not an isolated problem

The blog reflects growing local and national trends: A similar incident occurred at Lynbrook in 2015 and 2016, when male students at Lynbrook started creating secret Facebook groups to rate the appearances of female classmates.

The incident inspired three female seniors from Lynbrook’s class of 2016 to initiate the #NotANumber social media campaign, an empowering movement targeted toward promoting awareness and equality. Before these three Lynbrook students spoke out, however, few came forward about the issue despite considerable student awareness about the groups and their ratings.

In late 2017 — two years after the incident at Lynbrook — the #MeToo movement thrust issues such as sexual assault and harassment into the national spotlight. The revelations came nearly one year after now-President Donald Trump publicly dismissed a “Access Hollywood” recording in which he condoned his own sexual harassment and assault of women as “locker room talk.”

And to some, the comments on Bellarmine Broads have resembled just that: a series of vulgar, lewd comments that circulated throughout many male-dominated environments — locker rooms included — for years, mostly hidden from public view. In this point of view, the blog is essentially harmless.

But even as the national discussion about sexual harassment grew this fall, the Bellarmine blog remained online.

The school’s administration was only notified of the blog’s existence in late November — nearly one month after The New York Times ran its first story detailing producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual abuse. Although some Bellarmine students seemed to be aware of the blog and previously expressed distaste for it, none reported it to the Bellarmine administration.

Smullen, the Presentation student who found the blog, and other students began to spread word about it. By then, however, Bellarmine’s administration had been notified and had already reported the site to the host company.

Another student, SHS junior Casey Hayden, previously attended Bellarmine and said he understands what may have contributed to the blog’s creation.

“One of the things about Bellarmine is that it’s good because you can focus on school,” he said. “But at the same time a lot of events like this happen because [it’s an all boys school] and no one is going to say anything [to the administration].”  


The fallout

Since the Bellarmine administration became aware of the blog in late November, they worked to shut it down. There was an initial delay in notifying staff and students about it, Luscher explained, as specific search queries on Google could direct users to the blog’s content even after the home page was disabled.

Now, all that remains is a page with the blog’s name.

Teachers, staff and students have since been notified of the blog’s contents. Luscher said the incident has caused much embarrassment and discomfort for the female teachers and staff members written about in the blog.

Many students that Luscher has spoken to agree that this blog was the work of only a few and is not representative of the school’s overall culture. Luscher recently met with a group of seniors in hopes of sparking a schoolwide discussion.

Asked whether Bellarmine’s all-male culture was a contributing factor in the creation of the blog, Luscher said the school makes numerous efforts to round out the education of the 1,645 boys who go there, offering classes such as Feminist Studies and Gender Studies in Literature.

“I wouldn’t work here if that were the dominant culture of this place,” Luscher said. “I’ve always felt very comfortable here and respected as a woman, and I know my colleagues feel the same.”


Moving forward

In the meantime, the Bellarmine administration has made a concerted effort to facilitate discussion both inside and outside of the classroom: Students have been encouraged to speak out when they witness incidents of harassment or assault; teachers have also held discussions about these topics in their classes, Luscher said.

Most Bellarmine students have reacted positively to the administration’s efforts, but Hayden — the former Bellarmine student who now attends SHS — remains skeptical.

He admits that the administration has tried each year to expose the all-male student body to alternative perspectives on women’s rights and social justice with its Summit on Human Dignity, but doubts that some of the boys there will listen.

“I don’t know how it is right now,” Hayden said. “People don’t care; that’s partially just how it is today: People don’t care that much.”

Nevertheless, Luscher still believes that the sentiments expressed in the blog do not reflect the attitudes of the vast majority of Bellarmine’s student body. And later on, multiple students at Bellarmine did eventually approach The Falcon, hoping to find information that would expedite the administration’s investigations into the blog.

For now, Bellarmine continues to plan to address topics related to gender and sensitivity. During the 2013-14 school year, its annual Summit on Human Dignity addressed the theme: “Masculinity: Who is the Man God Has Called Me to Be?” For the upcoming school year, Luscher and the administration plan to explore and revisit the theme.

“I was deeply saddened,” Luscher said. “And I think many of our students feel the same way.”

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