Speak About It: The sex talk high schoolers want to have is also the one that creates the most change

We work with 100+ colleges: It’s time to bring our affirmative, inclusive consent education to public high schools too. 

The Problem

It is 2018: we all know that consent is good and sexual assault is bad. But the national conversations that have emerged even in the last year prove that sexual violence prevention is not that simple. Every day, there are new stories coming to light that complicate our understanding of consent, power, and healthy relationships. Students across the country are paying attention, but they often don’t have access to the education or tools to navigate these conversations, let alone their own romantic or sexual relationships. Students are learning that they need to get consent to avoid getting in trouble; but their teachers and parents are not empowering them to get to the root of the problem and seek out paths for more healthy and fulfilling sexual lives.

Speak About It is a sexual assault prevention and consent education organization that uses theater to build empathy, and empowers students to develop healthy relationships and create a culture of consent in their communities. Public high schoolers are in critical need of our kind of education, especially because comprehensive sex education is so rare. In high schools and colleges, fear often takes center stage where inclusivity and information should be. Fear should not be a part of anyone’s sexual experience. We work with over 50,000 college students annually, and we hear time and time again that students, “wished they got this kind of education in high school.”

The Solution

High school students need affirmative consent education that is fun, informative, positive, inclusive of their identities, and mindful of what they are actually experiencing day-to-day. Healthy sexuality education is violence prevention.

Speak About It presents a 1-hour flagship show that is engaging, honest, and informed by best practices for violence prevention and bystander intervention. The performance compiles true stories from real students, and captures what healthy relationships can and should look like, shows how to support survivors, and allows students to speak openly about sex and consent. We center diverse narratives, using language inclusive of all sexualities and genders and showcasing a range of experiences across identities. We engage students in dialogue about gender roles, hook-up culture, identity, and consent while giving them tools to turn these conversations into actionable tactics for personal and community change.

The impact is clear: in 2016, 99% of students surveyed reported that Speak About It provided clear information about effective consent, and 97% reported feeling more confident about being an active bystander after viewing the performance.

We have brought this show to colleges and numerous high schools over the past 8 years, and learned that often public high schools are most in need of our work. Throughout our home state of Maine, neither rural or urban communities provide culturally competent sex education that is affirmative, pleasure-focused, and inclusive of queer, trans, and non-binary identities. Many students do not have templates for healthy sexuality or relationships informed by their own desires and choices. Students need tools to navigate consent and healthy relationships, and Speak About It is ready meet the needs of high school students in our community and across the country.

Planned Use Of Funds

High schools across the country face budget cuts, particularly for health and wellness programming. Speak About It must balance the cost of traveling across the country and fairly compensating our trained educators with charging schools an appropriate fee. That fee can still be prohibitively expensive for some schools.

Speak About It wants to share our work with students across our home state of Maine and beyond. Regardless of zip-code, students should have access to resources that affirm their identities and offer tools to negotiate healthy and safe relationships.

Speak About It is a small nonprofit with only three staff members, but we talk to over 50,000 students a year. Every dollar helps us reach more students. Funding from Shared Nation would allow us to bring our programs to an additional 4-6 high schools free of charge. It costs approximately $1,300 to put on a performance, and each reaches 350-500 students. Included in the cost is a training for student leaders and a facilitated audience discussion following the performance. Shared Nation’s support will help us reach at least 2,000 more high school students, with ripple effects throughout their communities.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

Speak About It, Inc.

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