by Kim Taylor
PHS has been ahead of the curve for 10 years. Though Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill that requires California high schools to teach the issue of consent, PHS has been presenting its version of consent education in an assembly to the freshmen class since 2005. Directed by PHS Acting Teacher Kim Taylor, it has become a powerful piece of the PHS Social Emotional Curriculum.
In 2005, the PHS Advanced Acting class presented the first Consent Assembly, which included three actors performing true stories of PHS students who had been raped. This year, the newest version of the PHS Consent Assembly was presented first at a parent education night and then for the freshmen and senior classes. While the initial three stories have been included in the assembly each year, other parts have changed through the years.
This year’s major addition to the assembly included a true story about a male PHS student who felt pressured to have sex before he was ready. Actor Saam Jalinous, who portrayed that story in the assembly, said, “It’s important to represent the guy’s perspective on consent issues. Girls are not the only ones who feel pressure. Hopefully, it will make everyone more comfortable having more open discussions on the topic.”
Another important change in the assembly was implemented last year, when students were first taught the new “affirmative consent law.” This law requires California colleges and universities to apply the “yes means yes” standards when investigating campus sexual assaults. Students learn within the assembly that consent must be “affirmative, conscious and voluntary.”
This year’s Consent Assembly consisted of five students’ stories, portrayed by advanced actors Eliza Lucas, Maura Phillips, Yael Gordon, Char Nakashima-Conway, and Saam Jalinous. Joci Kelleher, a parent of two former PHS students, portrayed the true story of another parent who had dealt with her daughter’s sexual assault. Finally, seniors Gabe Watson and Yuval Wolf provided leadership as they concluded the assembly, by discussing the definition of consent and urging both sexes to work together to be a part of the solution.
“I wanted to be a part of the assembly because it raises awareness about an important topic,” said senior actor Eliza Lucas. “After watching the assembly, survivors won’t feel so isolated and alone, people will be more sensitive about the topic, and everyone will be more aware.”