Implement The Topic of Consent into British Columbia's Sex Education Curriculum
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To end rape culture, we must create a consent culture. The goal of the #KnowMeansNo Campaign is to implement the topic of consent into British Columbia’s existing Sexual Education Curriculum. If you know what consent looks like, you know when no means no.
If you are a high school graduate, or currently attending high school, can you recall learning the topic of consent and/or sexual assault in Sex Ed? While it is crucial to educate students on pregnancy and STI prevention, it is equally as important to teach them about consent. This is a concept that is widely understood at the surface level and yet is often ignored or passed over. Consent is always required before engaging in an encounter, whether it is as innocent as holding hands, or more involved such as in kissing or sexual intercourse. Initiating a sexual act without the other person’s consent is considered sexual assault or rape. In spite of this, many consider consent to be strictly optional, and do not see the harm in bypassing it.
While disturbing, this practice has prevailed as a normalized occurrence in North American society. Without universal knowledge of what constitutes consent, statistics show that sexual assault has become far more common, with 1 in 4 North American women sexually assaulted during their lifetime. In fact, 80% of sexual assault incidents occur in the victim’s home, by someone who is not a stranger. In order to counteract the international problem, it is necessary to improve education on what consent is, when it is necessary, and how to identify situations in which consent has been retracted or ignored.
To address this issue, we ask that the British Columbia government take the following measures:
1) Implement a comprehensive program into the current health and sexual education curriculum, teaching students about the importance and validity of consent. (i.e. Students should be taught what constitutes consent under Canadian law, and educated on their right to say “no" to unwanted sexual interactions without guilt, shame or fear. We propose this in two parts:
- An introductory program outlining consent in its most general terms, to be understood and taught at an elementary level
- A detailed program specific to sexual consent, to be understood and taught at a secondary level
2) Integrate information about sexual assault into British Columbia’s sexual health education classes. This would include clear information on what constitutes sexual assault, what to do in the event of an assault (i.e., how and where to go about obtaining a sexual assault evidence kit, also known as a "rape kit"), what the victim's options are (i.e., pressing charges/not pressing charges and other legal options), and resources on where to go to receive follow-up medical and psychological assistance.
3) Develop a program and set of learning outcomes that is inclusive, and can be consistently followed and understood by all sexual health classes in British Columbia. This should be easily understood across the board by students, teachers and parents, regardless of the sexual orientation and/or gender of involved parties.
4) Require teachers/instructors to undergo adequate training to teach new curriculum. This would include extensive training on how to address issues of consent and sexual assault, bearing in mind the sensitivity of this topic (i.e., correct use of language, how to create a safe space, free of judgement etc.).
5) Post-secondary education institutions in British Columbia should mandate that all students in grade 8 should undergo a mandatory discussion about consent, with a mandatory follow up in grade 11 instructed by teachers or third party professionals.
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