When I was a teenager, I didn’t get even a sprinkle of a discussion about consent in my sex education classes until I was nearly out the door. Even then it was a blip of a conversation in a class that, in retrospect, seemed to revolve entirely around what different kinds of sexually transmitted diseases I could get. I considered myself lucky getting even that much, but I’ve wondered what sex education looks like today for students in a post-#MeToo world, where even our president is an accused rapist.
The Washington Post has a nice piece about what comprehensive conversations about consent can and should look like today for kids as young as middle schoolers. In 2018 when the Harvey Weinstein stories broke, just 11 states included references to consent and sexual assault in their sex education classes, but a 2019 report from the Center for American Progress found that 21 states including Washington, D.C. now include references to consent in sex education standards.
The WaPo story focuses on a middle school in Maryland where kids are taught the basics of consent, such as using a sign where kids are told to choose how they want to greet their teacher by smiling, giving her a high five, or a hug:
Marcoux reminded the students about the sign outside the classroom. “You had a choice today,” she said. “What if I stood there and said ‘Give me a hug?”
One student giggled, saying she did not like the idea.
“I’ve always seen a student-teacher relationship as more of a professional thing,” offered Michael Fayer, 13.
“Most of you were not comfortable giving me a hug,” Marcoux said. “That’s totally okay because you are responsible for your decisions about your body.”
The kids are receptive and curious, but not all parents are totally onboard. “They’re just getting their periods, they’re just getting comfortable with making eye contact with a boy, let alone having any conversations,” one mother said.
I say start ’em as young as possible! Read the full story here.