At a time the president-elect dismisses inappropriate comments about sexual assault as “locker-room banter“, others are trying to define and teach appropriate sexual behavior. The Texas High School Coaches Association and the Texas Education Agency are teaming up in a campaign they’re calling “Starting the Conversation” to address issues surrounding consent.

D.W. Rutledge, former high school football coach and current executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association, says the program is a tool to help high school coaches discuss sexual assault prevention.

“I think a coach has a major task and a minor task,” Rutledge says. “The minor task is in teaching the skills and techniques of the game. The major task is in the intangibles that coaches have an opportunity to teach because they have a platform. They have an opportunity to teach character traits and leadership skills.”

More than 13,000 Texas children under the age of 19 were sexually assaulted in 2015, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Rutledge says the new online program focuses on preventative education through three different modules for ninth through 12th-grade students: Recognizing the Issue, Attitudes and Consent, and Building a Team of Leaders. Each module includes a three to four-minute video and a 20-minute lesson. The lessons are accompanied by a starter kit for coaches.

“[The message is] what consent really is,” Rutledge says. “It addresses the statistics of sexual violence and what it is and the issue of respect for one another – generating a culture that you feel like you can stand up and defend.”

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.

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