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Boston,  March 6 — Advocates, elected officials and community members filled the State House yesterday to join Jane Doe Inc. (JDI), the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, at the Massachusetts State House along with Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics, National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Chief Executive Officer Angelo McClain, and student athletes from Hingham High School to launch JDI’s 2020 Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Campaign.

2020 marks the thirteenth year that JDI is spearheading the annual White Ribbon Day Campaign in Massachusetts. Part of a larger global initiative to engage men and boys in the work of ending gender-based violence, this year’s White Ribbon Day Campaign in Massachusetts focuses on youth leadership in reimagining positive concepts of masculinity  – like collaboration, respect, and emotional honesty – and challenging persistent and destructive gender norms. This focus is reflective of research that shows young men with more progressive attitudes about gender are less likely to bully or be violent towards women, and the ongoing efforts of young people around the state to foster conversations about gender equity and violence prevention with their peers, which deserve to be highlighted.

In the coming months, communities and organizations across the Commonwealth will host events in conjunction with the campaign, as part of continued efforts to end gender-based violence in Massachusetts and across the country.

“These are really challenging and polarizing times and, in this current climate, JDI and our members and partners understand that we can’t only stand in opposition. We have to have hope, and to take a stand for the values of equity, respect, and dignity. Today, in this moment, I feel hopeful, and I hope you do to,” Debra Robbin, Executive Director of JDI, told that audience.

“Part of the reason why we think it’s important to come back, year after year, to White Ribbon Day is it’s important to work with Jane Doe and others to engage young people in appropriate behaviors and relationships – you have to talk about this. You have to put it in front of people.. We all need to model everyday, the behaviors that we believe create a kinder, more equitable, and better community,” said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

“In school, we think about educating our kids about academics and skills and things they need to develop a path to a job and a career,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We teach them extensively about driving and how to conduct themselves on the road. We need to teach and educate our youth about behaviors in a friendship, in a relationship – relationships matter. Not only to middle-school and high schoolers, but they matter throughout your life, and to be able to attach yourself to an understanding about what is healthy is part of what will prepare our teens for their future around wellness.”

JDI’s Diana Mancera, Director of Membership and Programs, introduced Enes Kanter, Boston Celtics Forward and human rights advocate, and pointed to the powerful opportunity for student athletics and sports figures to shift the narrative in terms of gender equity and respect.

Kanter said, “Violence comes in more forms than physical and I stand with you young men today to pledge to stand up and with women everywhere around the world to not condone violence in any space. … The right thing to do is to spread respect among ourselves and towards women. We don’t have to follow established traditional norms of manhood. Overcoming our insecurity in this respect is half the battle. You will start seeing the positive impact of reimagined manhood“.

Hingham High  School Track and Field Coach Fred Jewett has been a long-time White Ribbon Day Ambassador and engages his student-athletes in the White Ribbon Day campaign. Two student-athletes shared a few words about what the White Ribbon Day campaign means to them and  their peers in Hingham.

“[The] feeling  of togetherness and respect that we create here in Hingham can change the lives of the people around us. If we continue to treat each other as friends, as teammates, and as equals, we can foster an environment free of gender-based violence and discrimination, because this is the world that we all want to live in,” said Pria  Parker, a junior at Hingham High School and member of the Girls Track and Field  Team.

“We take pride  in the team environment that we cultivate- one that produces athletically driven, but also empathetic and respectful, young men. To cultivate such an environment, we have taken steps to prevent the formation of toxic masculinity in our team culture…and the  adoption of the principles of mutual respect. …Such a culture is a powerful defense against the harmful perceptions of masculinity that ultimately drive gender- based violence and discrimination,” said Conrad Davis, a senior captain of the Boys Cross Country Team and member of the Track and Field Team.

If you’re interested in learning more about the White Ribbon Day Campaign, inc luding how you can get involved, please visit: https://janedoe.org/whiteribbonday/.