Teaching Consent

Our school YRBS data tells me that my sophomore students are at a time in their lives where knowledge of consent is extremely important considering the relationships they will have and decisions they will make regarding sex over the coming years.

Consent has become one of a number of hot topics in #healthed, and a topic that I am still in my early years of including in my curriculum. A number of ideas and resources have been created recently and in this blog post I’ll share some of those resources that I have used in class.

Great name game that sneakily introduces the idea of consent.

We invite guest speakers in from the local community to speak to our students. ANGLES is our local resource for teen sexuality education and they also organize a PRIDE panel for LGBTQ+ students and allies. Their warm up activity involved students getting to know each others name, and then switching positions based upon a series of requests and permissions. I used this at the beginning of 2nd semester with a new cohort of students, not only to get to know their names but also to foreshadow classes that were to come at a later point in the year.

Awesome 65 page document (from the UK) including 8 detailed lesson plans.

I have used a few activities from this invaluable document. Initially I put students in small groups and ask them to create a clear definition of consent. Groups then share their definitions and we start to compile a class definition. The definition is refined until we finally get to a definition that includes the key components of:

  • Consent is given clearly and freely
  • Without pressure
  • Is ongoing and can be withdrawn
  • By someone who has the capacity to give consent (considering age/intoxication etc)

consentHere is an example. It’s wordy, but it shows how the definition grew based upon additional suggestions.

Kinesthetic Activity again, taken from the document listed above, I line the class up in two lines facing each other, perhaps 20 feet apart. When I say ‘go‘, students in one of the lines slowly take small steps towards their partner asking ‘can I take another step‘ before each step. This continues until the facing person says ‘stop‘ once they feel uncomfortable with the proximity of the person opposite them. This prompts the following questions:

  • Where does the responsibility for stopping lie between the two people? (the seeker)
  • Why do you think people asked the other person to stop at different differences away? 
  • How does it feel to be able to say ‘stop’ and have that respected?
  • How does it feel when people don’t respect your boundaries?
  • How would it have felt if the opposite person had kept taking a step forward even when you asked them to stop?

As I said before, the document really does have some great activities, scenarios to discuss and reflective assessment documents to demonstrate student knowledge and understanding.

This short video is student friendly and uses making tea as  analogy for sex. It’s simple, funny and will get the conversation started. Now I hear what you’re saying – do we need analogies with something which should be so clear. I find it’s a good place to start, and then we can discuss the use of analogy to take the conversation further.

This short video uses borrowing a cell phone as its analogy for sex. Again, simple, clear and a conversation starter.

Amaze.org have a wealth of videos, primarily aimed at younger students. This is an example of how clear, concise and positive their videos are.

Here’s a very clear and concise video from Canada, via teachingsexualhealth.ca.

My favorite videos on consent however are the series of 4 short videos from Planned Parenthood. HOWEVER, they are specifically targeted for students aged 17 – 22. I let my students know that they are available, but that I can’t show them in class. That actually also prompts a good discussion about why certain resources are deemed suitable for a specific age group even if the message is a universal one.

The National Sexuality Education Standards document is another valuable resource. Created by The Future of Sex Education Initiative (FoSE) the document maps out content and skills appropriate for different stages in school. Consent is effectively introduced in 2nd grade, with sexual consent covered in high school. And that is a crucial point, consent isn’t just about sex. Young kids need to learn that no means no , the value of ‘no‘ and that they have a right to be heard, and protect their bodies.

And while you’re checking out great resources, have you seen Advocates new Rights, Respect, Responsibility free K-12 sex ed curriculum? It includes 80 lesson plans and a 25-page Teacher’s Guide for free.

My students really like these ‘Coercion and Consent Scenarios‘ from ETR.

Our local college, Northwestern has some great resources on their site. See also ‘Yes Means Yes’ and the Step Up? Bystander Intervention Program.

Looking for some fun consent games to play? Try this 5 minute podcast from Kim Cavill or this comfortable/uncomfortable/unsure game from Levi Todd.

Finally, here’s a GREAT read: The Reckoning: Teaching About the #MeToo Moment and Sexual Harassment With Resources From The New York Times 

Here are this week’s #slowchathealth questions. Answer them as they are released daily, or answer them all at once, it doesn’t matter as long as we keep the conversation flowing.

Q1. Answer our #slowchathealth poll – Is consent explicitly taught within your #healthed curriculum?

Q2. Why should we teach consent within our #healthed curriculum? #slowchathealth

Q3. How would someone know that sexual consent has been given? #slowchathealth

Q4. What misunderstandings or myths do your students believe regarding consent? #slowchathealth

Q5. What are your favorite accounts to follow regarding sexuality education? #slowchathealth

7 thoughts on “Teaching Consent

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