Add consent and abuse education to Canyon ISD's health curriculum

Add consent and abuse education to Canyon ISD's health curriculum

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Canyon for Consent started this petition to Canyon ISD SHAC chair Montess Callahan and

We the undersigned submit this petition in favor of adding comprehensive, scientifically-accurate education on consent, abuse, and violence to Canyon Independent School District’s health curriculum by fall of 2021.

The Big Decisions Canyon ISD Curriculum Outline shows that Unit 9, entitled “The Power to Say ‘NO’: Sticking to My Decision” is presented only when “time permitting.” When this curriculum is presented, it teaches only “effective ways to say ‘no’ when pressured for sex” and that “everyone has the right to say ‘no.’”

However, the health curriculum includes no information on what to do when “no” is not observed, what to do if a student has already been abused, or what to do when “no” is not possible. The curriculum fails to acknowledge the psychology of fight/flight/freeze. No part of Canyon ISD’s health curriculum acknowledges the power and control wheel, the dominant theory behind domestic violence. Finally, the curriculum fails to outline a student’s resources, should that student become or already be a survivor of abuse or violence. (Students are currently advised to "go to a counselor," but given counselors are legally mandated to immediately contact authorities, students deserve to know their options outside the school in case they are not comfortable reporting to police.)

Child protective services substantiates a claim of child sexual abuse every nine minutes. Two-thirds of victims under 18 are between the ages of 12 and 17, and females aged 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of sexual assault. Family Support Services of Amarillo states that reported domestic violence rates in our region are three times the state average.

Furthermore, a 2018 Columbia University study found that students who receive consent education including refusal skills training were less likely to experience penetrative sexual assault in college. A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found almost half of college students did not know the definition of consent nor the ramifications of not receiving consent. Education organizations ranging from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development to the American Federation of Teachers support comprehensive and factual consent education in classrooms.

Given the shortcomings of Canyon ISD’s health education, the frequency of sexual assault and abuse in our region, and the benefits of consent education, we support the implementation of consent education. We endorse curricula such as Harvard University’s Consent at Every Age guidelines but are willing to engage in a dialogue as to the logistics of a consent curriculum in Canyon ISD. We demand the Board of Education and School Health Advisory and Nutrition Committee address the public’s wishes for the good of Canyon’s children, community, and future.  

Sincerely,

Erin Sheffield, Canyon High School 2019 alumna and founder of Canyon for Consent, and the undersigned

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