Two Amazing 13-Year-Olds Are Single-Handedly Changing the Way Teens Learn About Sex

Kids these days!

Two 13-year-old girls are proving that youth doesn't equal ignorance with their inspiring, not to mention successful, campaign to amend Ontario's sexual health curriculum.  

We Give Consent, led by Toronto eighth-graders Tessa Hill and Lia Valente, targeted the Ontario Ministry of Education, requesting that consent education be taught throughout the province in an effort to combat rape culture. The pair launched a Change.org petition and leveraged social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, to rally support for it. 

"The curriculum needs to teach what clear, enthusiastic and affirmative consent is and what it looks and sounds like. We want health education that teaches our peers 'Yes means Yes,'" the petition reads.  Apparently, Ontario officials would tend to agree. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that consent would indeed be included in an updated curriculum.  


This will be a welcome change. As ThinkProgress reported, Ontario's sex ed classes have been in place since the 1990s and are widely considered outdated. Social conservatives derailed a 2010 attempt to update the curriculum and until Hill and Valente launched We Give Consent, no progress had been made.

The girls conceptualized the campaign while collaborating on a school assignment that explores rape culture. "The idea for We Give Consent started from a media studies project. We're creating a 20-minute documentary about rape culture in the media [which includes] a call to action," Hill told Mic. "One day in a Queer Straight Alliance meeting ... our teacher brought up the fact that the Ontario health curriculum was changing ... Lia and I decided on creating We Give Consent."

Their decision was met with enthusiasm from the start. "Our teachers have been especially great at spreading the word and connecting us with other sources. Even our lunchroom supervisor, supply teacher and principal have given us loads of support," Valente told Mic. "Many of our classmates are also very encouraging and have been a big part in what we're doing, so we couldn't be more grateful for the people in our school environment."

Source: Facebook

The campaign's potential impact should not be underestimated. As in America, sexual violence in Canada is widespread. According to Ontario's Sexual Assault Center Hamilton Area, 1 in 4 Canadian women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, and half of these assaults will occur before age 16. 

By educating youth on the importance of affirmative consent, a cultural shift — one that rejects rape culture and instead embraces "Yes Means Yes" — is entirely possible.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Maureen Shaw

Maureen is a contributor to Identities Mic and the founder of sherights.com. Her writing has appeared on the Huffington Post, Feministing, Jezebel, Fem2.0 and more. Follow Maureen on Twitter at @MaureenShaw.

MORE FROM

Serena Williams responds to John McEnroe's comments saying she would rank "like 700" against men

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."

People are way less likely to be helpful when it's hot out, according to study

Sorry, it's too hot out to help you move.

Democrats, the American Medical Association and US bishops blast the Senate health care bill

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more Americans will be without health insurance next year if the bill passes.

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.

Theresa May announces pact with Northern Ireland's conservative DUP

10 of the DUP's MPs will vote alongside May's party in exchange for more than $1 billion of funds.

Serena Williams responds to John McEnroe's comments saying she would rank "like 700" against men

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."

People are way less likely to be helpful when it's hot out, according to study

Sorry, it's too hot out to help you move.

Democrats, the American Medical Association and US bishops blast the Senate health care bill

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more Americans will be without health insurance next year if the bill passes.

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.

Theresa May announces pact with Northern Ireland's conservative DUP

10 of the DUP's MPs will vote alongside May's party in exchange for more than $1 billion of funds.