Sexual assault education must improve

Jane Mather-Glass, Opinion Columnist

While most ETHS health classes go in depth on mental and physical health, teachers and their curriculums are not free of stigma when it comes to sexual assault. It’s time teachers educate the student body on this topic.

For the past couple of years, the school has brought in a few representatives from the YWCA to lead a Building Healthy Relationships seminar. This is great! We have people come and talk to us openly about what consent looks like, and how to detect signs of unhealthy relationships.

However, these workshops only last for four days, which is not enough time to have a serious effect on students. These concepts must be ingrained in the Sex Ed. curriculum so that students are constantly reminded of why sexual assault is so serious.

What’s also detrimental to our knowledge is when teachers show flippant videos that turn a serious topic, like consent, into a joke. I know the “Consent as Tea” video is kind of funny, but consent isn’t something we should be laughing about.

Part of this problem is the stigma around talking about sex. Now, it’s not like we have abstinence-only health classes (thankfully), but we sure aren’t that open about it. My chrome book blocked a video, which was actually an assignment for the Healthy Relationships Unit, because it included the word “sex” in the title. The video, titled “How to Know If Someone Wants to Have Sex With You” was a detailed, informative video about consent. I get what they’re going for with that block, but if we put a blanket censor over all things sex, we’ll never be able to talk openly about the serious subjects involving sex, like assault.

Now, I don’t mean to completely bash our health classes. We are lucky compared to other students, especially to those in places like Texas, Alabama, or South Carolina. According to the Huffington Post, the sex ed classes in these states–if they’re even provided—provide false, often negative information on same sex relationships. We’re also lucky enough to live in a state that requires us to learn about contraception and HIV.
Nevertheless, education on sexual assault can and should be improved nationwide. Not only do we need information about consent and what consent looks like, but we need to teach students that sexual assault may cause severe psychological damage to survivors. This is an issue that we need people to fully understand and care about, and we won’t get there without frequent and open discussions. Not twice a year for three days. Not for just one month a year. This is a conversation that needs to continue throughout our high school experience and beyond.