This Is How One Teacher Is Teaching Consent, And People Love It
"Whenever I get frustrated about the state of our country, it inspires me to proactively teach my kids to DO BETTER."
There are a lot of people out there acting like consent is confusing. But as one California teacher is proving, it's easy enough for third-graders to understand.
Liz Kleinrock is a third-grade teacher at Citizens of the World Charter School in Los Angeles, and she recently shared how she teaches her students about consent.
A chart she posted on Instagram shows a straightforward look at exactly what consent means.
In the caption, Kleinrock referred to the recent confirmation battle over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
"Everything about Kavanaugh in the news has been making me HEATED," she said. "So whenever I get frustrated about the state of our country, it inspires me to proactively teach my kids to DO BETTER. Today was all about CONSENT."
The chart shows various interactions where consent may be necessary, such as hugs or other physical contact, and the language people can use. Kleinrock notes that consent sounds "positive and enthusiastic" and gives examples of what people can say if they don't want to give consent.
While much of the national conversation around consent has had to with sex, Kleinrock's lesson is about everyday actions.
"It’s really about asking permission to be able to do something," Kleinrock told BuzzFeed News. "I don’t think it's complicated at all."
She also shared work from her students, who were asked to write about consent and why it matters.
Even if the spelling isn't quite right, the ideas are bang on.
The posts prompted a large response on Instagram. Kleinrock said parents, caregivers, and other teachers reached out to her seeking to pass on the lessons.
"Perfectly stated, and not just for children. I think many grown folks need this simple chart to understand consent," said one comment on Instagram.
"As a 2x sexual assault survivor who has raised a generation of girls and now has two 15-year-old boys in high school this brought me to tears! THANK YOU," said another.
"We're just talking about physical interactions that the average 8- and 9-year-old might have," said Kleinrock.
For example, she said, some kids enjoy getting a high five in the morning, and some would rather not be touched at all. Or, when a student touches her to get her attention, she can use that as another opportunity to talk about consent.
Kleinrock hopes that teaching her students about consent now will ensure they're ready to talk about sexual consent when they're older.
"Way down the road, middle school, high school, can you really begin to learn consent within relationships if you can't learn to keep your hands to yourself?" she said.
Basically, she wants to make sure these kids learn how to be empathetic and show compassion toward one another.
"I think it's easy to understand — just as with anything else, it takes practice and consistency," she said. "They're still going to make mistakes, and these are learning opportunities."