O’Dowd’s First Consent and Healthy Relationships Assembly

Insight into the production, impact, goals, and legacy of O’Dowd’s first student-run consent assembly.


O’Dowd’s Gender Justice Club

Orelia Oiknine, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

On Thursday, April 7, 2022, the Junior class headed into the theater to attend the Consent and Healthy Relationships Assembly. The Freshmen had already viewed the assembly a month prior, but with less serious content. This event was spearheaded by Kim Taylor, the Theater Teacher, and Mentor for the consent events at Piedmont High School. Taylor has been producing Consent Assemblies since 2005 at Piedmont High School with the help of Natasha Singh, a sexual literacy educator. Along with Taylor, O’Dowd’s assembly involved the participation of the Gender Justice Club and Unity Club. The assembly and its topic were made known to the junior class through several emails and Schoology announcements before the event and at the commencement of the assembly, students were once more provided with the opportunity to not attend or talk to a counselor on campus due to its discussion of sensitive and potentially triggering stories.

The assembly included the telling of sexual assault stories of several Bay Area teens. Members of the clubs listed above and members of the O’Dowd drama department gave a voice to these stories through powerful narrations. The theater was dark, with no props on stage, allowing the harrowing experiences of these teenagers to ring strong throughout the building. Kayla Goodin, President of the Gender Justice Club, shares, “The goal of the assembly was to connect with students on an emotional level as a lot of the stories depict graphic feelings and events. This, although hard to confront, will help students begin to understand the impact of sexual violence and hopefully reduce cases in the community.” The stories included various instances of sexual assault, encompassing all genders, perspectives, and emotions. After these narrations, all of the student participants in the assembly gathered onstage to describe the fundamentals of consent. They also urged survivors of assault or friends of survivors to reach out to the resources on campus and share their stories with a trusted adult. 

When asked what Taylor’s goals were for producing this assembly, she responded, “One major goal… is to create cultural change around consent.  When students see other students leading conversations about consent, they are more likely to become a part of the solution. It is important for survivors to feel supported, for allies to understand what to do when they hear a story, and for everyone to have a shared vocabulary for and understanding of consent.” 

Taylor also shared that she has noticed a change in schools since she started producing the assembly. For example, Piedmont High School created a Piedmont for Consent Club, in turn empowering people to speak up. Taylor states, “One major change I’ve seen has to do with silence. There are more people empowered to speak up, and fewer people feeling silenced and alone.”

Moreover, Bishop O’Dowd students are dedicated to continuing the advocacy. Goodin shares, “Gender Justice is a group that evolved last year and has been active ever since. Some things we have all accomplished are helping facilitate the assembly, bringing an online reporting tool to campus, and getting rid of the PE and health class division by biological sex. We also have been working on some artistic projects like posters and infographics. Finally, a group within Gender Justice has been focusing on curriculum changes to better include education on rape culture and integrate more diverse views in classes. We work with administrators directly which is the perfect channel for changing the culture at O’Dowd. Adults hear the students’ ideas firsthand and then discuss them and take the action with students. It is a unique opportunity for students at O’Dowd who are passionate about social justice.”

Goodin described her goals for the assembly, saying, “Moving forwards, we hope that the assembly will continue as a tradition for two grade levels to see each year. We also hope to eventually use stories from graduated O’Dowd students instead of using Piedmont’s. Finally, we hope to have members continue the Gender Justice and Unity Club to stay safe places for students to voice their ideas and opinions.”

O’Dowd is planning on continuing to show the Consent and Healthy Relationships Assembly to classes in the following years, creating and maintaining a proactive environment regarding sexual assault and misconduct on campus.