If you type “Consent Education” into Google, pages and pages will show up. “Saying yes to consent education,” “Could Consent Education really help to prevent Sexual Assault?” and “Speak about it—consent education” are just a few of the thousands of links that will be presented as you scroll through the web. But rarely do we see or hear about the movement in our schools, which St. Mary’s freshman Irie Page believes is the place that people should be focusing on the most. “I want to educate more people, and more schools about consent. Because I think that educating people before anything happens, is important,” says Page.
Page is 15. Last year, instead of a birthday party, she hosted Mike Domitrz, the founder of The Date Safe Project,an organization working to educate different age groups worldwide on how to ask for consent. More than 500 people showed up, almost twice the amount she was hoping for, and there were still lines out the door of the Portland State University building. It has been more than a year since the event, and Page is still continuing to work toward better consent education. Her next step focuses heavily on high schools, and reaching out to the students so the next generation can be more consensual than the last. “People tend to think that teens just think about themselves, but that’s not really true,” Page states. “Young people are extremely passionate, and I want to teach them to use their voice.”
She has formed a group of students from nine different schools—Franklin, Portland Waldorf School, Saint Mary’s, Cleveland, Milwaukee Academy of the Arts, Central Catholic, Wilson, and Rex Putnam. Their current goal is to double the impact of last year by holding an event in the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Page aims for it to be a free community function for everyone, and is again hosting Mike Domritz. “Mike came last year, and excelled my expectations. I love the way he speaks because his message is universal, and clear.”
Page’s event last year took place just as the ‘Me Too,’ and ‘Time’s Up’ movements started to gain publicity. The timing was almost perfect, but Page says that being part of the movement was not why she did it. “My project went well alongside of the movement, but it was not planned. When I first had the idea, the Time’s Up movement was not going on yet. I started it because I just grew up feeling like consent was common sense, and it shocked me that a number of people didn’t even realize or know what it was,” she says. “I think that my project and the movement go along well together, because we are standing for the same things.”
Right now, the group is focusing on fundraising. They have a GoFundMe link, and are working on publicising the event, mostly through social media and sponsorships. Page is excited to move forward with the group and make an even bigger change than last year. She looks forward to the event and hopes that her goals this year can succeed. “It’s so incredibly important that people donate, because without the donations, there will be no event,” she comments. The function should be able to reach as many people as possible, and Page has her eyes set on the impact she wants this to make on people. “I don’t think that consent education should be depressing, even though when people avoid it it can be devastating,” says Page. “I think that consent education should lift people up, and empower everyone.”