Consent and Sex Education

This was by far the most popular solution based on both number of submissions and number of votes. Thousands acknowledged that gender and power dynamics are learned from a very young age, inside and outside the classroom.

“An education program for young men starting in elementary with different modules about what's acceptable and unacceptable behavior in school, the workplace, on the street. Essentially, a course on how to respect women and girls as equals, as human beings. Consent should be a central component as well.” — Ariana

While many people suggested teaching accurate sex education to high school and middle school students, the majority of submissions advocated for teaching concepts of respect and consent at a much younger age. The #MeToo movement has revealed that sexual harassment is ultimately about power. Therefore we can, and should, teach the concept of consent before we start talking to young people about sex. Many of the submissions also drew the connection to teaching anti-bullying in schools.

“I think making a law that forces high schools and junior high schools to start teaching accurate, completely factually correct sex education that covers everything from basic anatomy to emotions, to sexual consent, to sexual assault, respect for all genders, same-sex relationships would really help. ” — anonymous

The current state of sex education is a travesty. Nineteen states currently require sex educators to teach abstinence-only, which typically includes misinformation about contraception and often teaches dangerous gender stereotypes as scientific fact. In particular, abstinence-only classes lay the groundwork for victim-blaming by teaching it’s solely women’s responsibility to say no to sexually aggressive men who “can’t help themselves.” Only 24 states plus D.C. mandate that schools teach sex ed at all, only 13 require it to be medically accurate, and only one, California, mandated that schools teach affirmative consent education in 2016.

“We must start in pre-school! No, it's not too early. We need to talk about respect for ourselves and others, about not touching others wherever a bathing suit covers. We need to use real words about our body parts. And this education must continue throughout the school years. ” — Ann L.

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