A petition calling for making sex education a priority and having consent and healthy relationships with LGBTQ+ inclusion taught in every New Zealand high school is being delivered to Parliament today – and the two 17-year-old girls who created it say it’s long overdue.
Lauren Jack, who created the campaign along with fellow Wellington High School student Ruby Medlicott, said more than 5,700 people signed the petition, which will be presented to MP Grant Robertson.
“People have been incredibly supportive throughout the campaign,” she said. “Many of us teenagers, still in high school, have experienced sexual harassment, sometimes within school environments. According to the stats, one in three girls experience sexual assault before the age of 16. The same goes for one in seven boys.”
Jack said the petition was created after male students at Wellington College were caught boasting about sexual assault in a private Facebook group. Around the same time, a group of Year 9 students at St Patrick’s College in Silverstream were stood down for taking inappropriate images of female staff members without their consent.
Jack said the petition helped show that rape culture should have no place in society. "We're scared, we assume that this will be a part of our lives, and it doesn't come as a surprise when we're catcalled or people make jokes about rape. We don't want to live in a world where rape culture is normal anymore."
Medlicott said having a conversation about sex education and consent was especially important for young people. “We as young people are the ones being educated. Therefore, why shouldn’t we have a say?”
The ultimate hope, Jack said, would be for MPs to turn the petition into a law and to see it introduced in educational institutions throughout the nation. “Every New Zealand teenager should be given the tools, education and knowledge to better understand the concept of consent in healthy relationships,” she said.
The petition is not the first action taken by Wellington students in response to rape culture.
In March, Hundreds of students gathered in front of Parliament to protest against rape culture. The protest against rape culture that students from Wellington East Girls’ College organised was originally planned to take place on March 10. The rally was relocated and rescheduled after male students threatened to “run over” protesters.Support Villainesse