BC launches new tools to help students better understand consent

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VICTORIA – The Province has launched a new guidance for educators and information for parents and students aim to give students a better understanding of consent and help prevent gender-based violence in B.C. schools.

The Ministry of Education and Childcare has released updated health guides and expanded Kindergarten-to-Grade-12 curriculum resources that will support educators in teaching consent with an age-appropriate and non-discriminatory approach in the classroom.

In elementary school, the guides suggest that teachers integrate discussions about consent into regular interactions that students have, such as asking a friend for permission before giving a hug. When students reach middle school, the guide offers examples on how teachers can help students recognize dangerous behaviours in a relationship. These lessons are aimed at giving students a better understanding of how to establish healthy boundaries and body autonomy in all aspects of their lives and relationships.
“Schools play a vital role in supporting students to learn about healthy sexual relationships and the important of consent in all aspects of their lives,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “These expanded guides, created with input from educators, will give teachers more tools to have the important discussions around consent and gender-based violence in their classrooms. Our government is committed to improving how students are learning about consent as this is an important step in doing our part to prevent sexualized violence and non-consensual behaviour in and out of schools.”

“What students, parents and advocates have said to us during our consultations on the gender-based violence action plan is how important it is to introduce age-appropriate information and guidance for students regarding consent, healthy friendships and relationships,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “We need to normalize consent, and support teachers in normalizing consent, as a part of our everyday lives and support our young people treating themselves and others safely, with dignity and respect.”

Early in 2023, the Province will offer additional learning sessions, through Safer Schools Together, for parents and students on consent, online safety and healthy relationships.

The Province is also updating the Erase (expect respect & a safe education) website to ensure trusted information and resources are available for students, parents and educators.

The Erase initiative is a strategy to help build safe and caring school communities. This includes empowering students, parents, educators and the community partners who support them to learn about complex issues facing students, get help with challenges, and to report concerns to schools.

Work is also underway with school districts to ensure that all students – including those in grades 11 and 12, receive consent education at school.

Teaching consent from kindergarten until Grade 12 schools is one component of a multi-year action plan to help end gender-based violence being developed by the Ministry of Finance’s Gender Equity Office and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. The B.C. government undertook focused engagement this year to inform the plan.