Welcome to this campaign! You've probably noticed that I've reached my initial goal of $3000 well before the time I anticipated it would take. Please do not let that dissuade you from donating. Any money coming in now will go into the adaptation of the resource to meet the curriculum expectations of all provinces and territories. If enough is raised, I will be able to hire translators so that the resource can also be used in French and Native Languages classrooms. There is also a possibility of a Spanish-language translation.
More information can be found under the "Updates" tab on this page.
Thank you for your interest and support!
(Please forgive the total lack of production value in my video! This pitch is way better, and involves no more video production! Promise.)
Hey. I’m Shannon. I’m an educator, a mom, and an activist. I’ve spent most of my adult life working in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, violence against women, and acquaintance-based sexual violence. A lot of that time has been spent in direct practice with youth and in training others to be educators themselves.
In the wake of the Stuebenville sentencing, I was feeling a lot of different emotions. The big one, though, was determination. What can I do on a bigger scale to address the rape culture that this example has made so public? I asked my Twitter followers, "What are you doing in your life to foster a culture of consent?" While it was retweeted several times, few people had a concrete response to the question.
So here we are.
I want to change the paradigm, and I need your help to do it. This campaign is to help me raise enough money so I can afford the time to commit to putting together downloadable resources and a workshop model to help classroom teachers and other educators to incorporate concepts of consent-based education into their everyday teaching. This work has the potential to disrupt rape culture.
What is consent-based education?
An approach that has been predominantly used in anti-violence work, consent-based education stresses the importance of respecting the boundaries of every individual in our lives, and of expecting a non-coerced, active and enthusiastic agreement for participation.
Isn’t that just Sex Ed?
No, it isn’t. Yes, it’s part of sexual health curriculum, but it extends far beyond that. If the main focus in a conversation on cyberbullying, for example, is how not to post suggestive photos of yourself on the internet, this isn’t consent culture. It’s actually perpetuating the prevalent rape culture idea that if those who are victimized by sexual violence just didn’t do X, they wouldn’t have been victimized. Consent culture changes the lens.
You want to talk about sex with kindergarten students?
Not exactly. Consent is a concept that isn’t exclusive to the realm of sexuality. If a 4-year-old child wants to hug a peer, that child can be taught that it’s respectful to ask for permission before doing so. If a five-year-old has a toy that another child wants, they can be taught negotiation skills to determine an agreement that leaves both of them feeling respected and that their needs have been met.
But that has nothing to do with sex! Explain!
Those specific examples have nothing to do with sexuality, it’s true. But look at the skills they’re developing in those situations. Aren’t these exactly the skills we want our youth to have when they develop respectful sexual relationships with their peers?
So what are you asking for?
Essentially, I’m asking for time and flexibility. In this world, those things cost money. I already incorporate consent-based education into my own teaching work, but I want to research how others have done it, I want to hone the descriptions of how I do it, and I want to develop a resource that includes not just tips on how to deal with teachable moments in the classroom, but how to tie this framework to the curriculum itself. Lesson plan ideas, multi-media resource suggestions, connections to specific curriculum streams. As I live and teach in Ontario, my primary focus will be this provincial curriculum. If I raise more than my requested $3000, I hope to adapt my work to fit requirements across Canada and beyond.
What does that money cover?
The $3000 amount is essentially the cost of my labour over 4-6 weeks to produce the work. Distribution will be done via a very basic low-cost web option. If more funds are raised, in addition to further adaptation of the materials, I will also be able to afford a better distribution model.
Aren’t you going to charge for the resource? Why ask us for money?
I want the resources to be free to anyone who needs access to them. This work is too important to hope that everyone will be able to afford them. I also recognize that it may not only be classroom teachers downloading the resources: students will also have unlimited access, as will parents and community members. I believe in open source resource sharing. That said, my kids also need to eat, and I have to pay my rent.
What will you do with the money if you don’t earn the full $3000?
I’ll scale down the project, and still put together a resource. I will be restricted to focusing on grades 7-12 if my funding goal isn’t reached.
What’s in this for me?
By funding this project, you’ll have the awareness that you’re doing something to counteract the virulence of rape culture in our communities. You’ll be creating a legitimate alternative to the messages that reinforce a culture of power-over by promoting negotiation, respect, and active and enthusiastic consent. And you’ll be doing all of this from the ground up.
How do you know this works?
I can’t tell you that incorporating consent-based education into the k-12 curriculum is the panacea to rape culture. What I can tell you is that on a small scale, one classroom at a time, I’ve seen students start to look at their place in the world in different ways as a result of this approach. I’ve seen Grade 7 students engage critically with the idea that maybe “not dressing like a slut” isn’t the best way for us as a community to prevent sexual harassment. I’ve seen Grade 11 and 12 students question media representations of sexual violence, and how those representations often favour the perpetrator. The learning is happening. You can create the opportunity for it to happen on a much broader scale than 25 young people at a time.
Are there perks to supporting this campaign?
My unending gratitude? Bragging rights? Follow Friday shout-outs on Twitter? Yeah, I’m not so good at the fancy rewards.
I wish I could support this, but I don’t have any money right now!
Not a problem! Just boost the signal as much as you can. Keep doing amazing consent-based stuff in your own communities. Give your time to support organizations that do this work. Speak out against rape culture.