Students Encourage Culture Change on Sexual Assault and Consent

In November, a group of Georgetown Day School students will host a Summit on Sexual Assault & Consent for Washington, D.C.-area independent school students, examining the implications of sexual assault at the high school level. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the complexity of sexual assault and consent issues guided by experts in this field and supported by their peers.

The idea emerged last summer at GDS’s third annual Policy & Advocacy Institute, where students participate in action-based seminars, closely examine a timely topic, understand how policy has developed around that topic, and then decide together how to take action and advocate for change.

During the “Addressing Sexual Assault and Consent” track, led by GDS counselor Amy Killy, students met with leaders and experts in the field to gather information related to one of four pillars: legal/policy, advocacy, direct service/support, and prevention. They also heard from survivors of sexual assault, who bravely shared their stories and their strength.

“We wanted students to walk away with the ability to be good, everyday advocates,” says Ms. Killy, “and that comes from making a real, human, emotional connection to an issue. Those personal interactions overwhelmingly shifted the students’ perspectives.”

They decided that the best strategy to effect change was to recreate their summer learning opportunity for more area teenagers. The November Summit will support and encourage advocates who value empathy and a sense of humanity and dignity, and develop skills that will sustain and support them when dealing with issues related to sexual assault. Participants will be encouraged to apply this knowledge in their own communities by designing initiatives and prompting culture change.

Does your school do something similar?

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