Why Comprehensive Sex Ed and Consent Education Go Hand in Hand

yes means yes

In the past few years, issues of consent—and a shift from “no means no” to “yes means “yes”—have placed consent education and rape prevention at the forefront of the sex ed debate.

In 2014, Rolling Stone published “A Rape on Campus,” and then retracted the piece after many parts of the story were called into question. In 2015, narrative journalist Jon Krakauer published Missoula, about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana. Suddenly, it seemed as if everyone was talking about consent. A slew of media stories asked whether colleges were doing enough (with the presumption that the answer was “no”). College administrators scrambled to scrutinize the ways in which they approached sexual assault on campus. Consent education programs were hastily put into place.

Earlier this year, Lisa De La Rue, Ph.D. and other researchers conducted a review of the effectiveness of various school-based interventions aimed at preventing teen dating violence. They found that, on the whole, such programs did not make much of an impact on sexual violence statistics. Some sexuality educators speculate that programs focusing solely on consent are too little, too late. After all, weren’t such programs missing the root issue of why sexual assault was so prevalent to begin with? Wouldn’t a scenario in which consent education was part of a larger curriculum of comprehensive sexuality education have a more positive impact?

Full disclosure: I recently wrote a piece for the Atlantic on this topic, and on why developmentally appropriate sex ed should begin earlier. So I’m excited that Jaclyn Friedman, MFA is appearing as a keynote speaker at the forthcoming National Sex Ed Conference in December, speaking about how responsible sex ed and rape prevention go hand in hand.

Her keynote is intended to offer a framework to help educators to more effectively and mindfully work with the inherent dynamics between sex ed and rape prevention. It will contain practical advice for educators, in addition to “a moral call to action for all sex educators to acknowledge and maximize our role in undoing rape culture.”

Friedman is a writer, speaker, and activist. Those who wish to immerse themselves in her work should read Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape and What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety (the latter written specifically for young girls). Friedman is also the voice behind the Unscrewed podcast, which “untangle[s] the politics and culture of sex, and help[s] out real-world sex advice-seekers.”

For more on early childhood sex education, check out:

  • Planned Parenthood’s tools for educators, which contains information on implementing sex ed, program evaluation tools, and additional resources.
  • the Raising Children Network, which contains tips for parents on how to teach their kids about sexuality… starting at birth.
  • Advocates for Youth, which also champions comprehensive sexuality education within the traditional educational framework, starting in Kindergarten.

Excited for the upcoming conference? Registration opens in two days! Boogie your way over to the registration page to learn more about registration fees, hotel accommodations, possible discounts, and more.