With September just around the corner, post-secondary students are preparing to return not only to their classes but also to their social lives on campus. In the context of pervasive sexism and other inequalities in our society and on post-secondary campuses, how are young adults navigating sexual consent? What information could empower them to challenge the culture of violence, respect others’ right to be free from sexual assault, and make informed decisions if their own rights are violated?

Funded by a generous grant from the Law Foundation of British Columbia, West Coast LEAF’s newest education initiative Only Yes Means Yes aims to inform post-secondary students about the law of sexual assault and consent through a social justice lens.

With input from diverse post-secondary students, West Coast LEAF will develop a workshop exploring the rights of survivors at a deeper and more sophisticated level than what’s currently available to most students in BC, and through the feminist legal lens that only West Coast LEAF can offer.

The workshop will examine legal case examples, such as the judicial inquiry into the victim-blaming conduct of former judge Robin Camp, in which West Coast LEAF recently intervened. The emphasis will be on the legal responsibility to get consent and the legal right to give or refuse consent, not just for sexual touching but also for the online sharing of intimate images.

“No means no” is true—but even more importantly, only clear, ongoing, freely given consent means “yes.”

In addition to unpacking consent law, the workshop will demystify what happens, legally, after a sexual assault is reported to the police. This type of education can empower survivors to make an informed decision about what to do after an assault (even if they choose not to go to the police) and can reduce the uncertainty and stress associated with navigating the justice system in the aftermath of sexualized violence.

Only Yes Means Yes comes on the heels of the release of our recently revised Is that Legal? booklet for youth and people who work with them. This plain language legal guide to sexualized harassment and abuse on the internet was originally published 2014 as part of our Legal Responses to Cyber Misogyny project and has been thoroughly revised with the support of Legal Aid BC. The 2017 edition contains updates to the law and expanded section on consent, uses plainer language, and integrates the feedback of youth and service providers.

In the coming year, we will be translating Is That Legal? into Arabic, Spanish, Punjabi, and Simplified and Traditional Chinese. Please visit our website to download the English version, learn how to order print copies, or get updates about the multilingual versions as they become available.

As West Coast LEAF prepares to launch Only Yes Means Yes, we are proud to be continuing our long history of providing youth-driven legal education about sexual assault and consent. This newest project builds on successes and learnings from our No Means No workshop program for students in grades 5 to 9, which we have offered in schools and to community groups for more than 15 years.

To request a No Means No workshop in Metro Vancouver, the Thompson-Nicola region, or the Nanaimo region, please contact Alana at education@westccoastleaf.org or 604-684-8772, extension 117.

We also encourage you to get in touch with Alana if you are a student or employee at a college or university in BC and would like to get involved with Only Yes Means Yes or learn more about West Coast LEAF’s public legal education programs.

To make a donation to support our ability to offer workshops regardless of a group’s ability to pay, please email Basya at development@westcoastleaf.org, call 604-684-8772, ext. 114, or make a donation online here.