“This is going to get awkward!”
That was the warning that DSVS Prevention Education Program Director Libby Johnson delivered to Red Lodge High School students as she introduced the topic of enthusiastic consent. Turns out what she was asking them to do was a silly activity, but it skillfully illustrated the importance of consent in our everyday lives and how to communicate your limitations and intentions. Though it had the students laughing, they were learning too.
The lesson was part of a five-week pilot program to provide healthy relationship guidance to high school students. The program is designed to build on the healthy relationship lessons introduced in Power Up, Speak Out! which is traditionally delivered to middle school students. Topics covered included teen dating violence, abusive relationships and how to identify them, rape culture and the systems that support it, gender roles and stereotypes, bystander intervention, and enthusiastic consent among other topics.
The 10-session course included lots of hands-on interaction, roll playing, and group activities. Student response was overwhelmingly positive, Libby said. Based on a survey following the program, the young people were most interested in learning about teen dating violence, healthy relationships and consent. Students also wanted to discuss dating, breaking up, and how to deal with rejection.