Ignacio Junior High School student Gabby Creason took a few conversations she had with a friend about sexual consent, and turned it into a survey and group discussions for a project that earned her medals at state and national conventions.
Last fall, one of Creason’s friends talked about her boyfriend wanting to have sex with her, even when she didn’t want to.
“She felt like she ‘owed herself’ to her boyfriend,” Creason, a junior, said. “She said, ‘We have to have sex, we’re dating,’” and that didn’t seem right.
The conversation prompted Creason, who participates in Family Career and Community Leaders of America club at ISH, to contact Sexual Assault Services Organization in Durango and ask how she could talk to her peers about the topic of sexual consent.
The theme for Ignacio FCCLA projects last year was “Stop the violence,” so the conversation and her project were timely.
Small groups are more effective for talking with young people about difficult issues than lectures, Maura Doherty Demko, executive director of SASO, told Creason.
Creason created a survey and asked 83 students in the small school of 230 students their views about sexual consent. She also held several discussion circles.
One of her survey questions asked: If someone has sex with someone who is unconscious, is that consent?
Creason said some people responded that if someone was asleep or unconscious, “it doesn’t matter” if someone wants to have sex.
Part of the discussions she had focused on such behavior as being illegal under Colorado law. “And, it’s morally incorrect,” Creason said.
After holding discussion circles, more students seemed to realize that behavior isn’t acceptable. They also became more aware of when a person says no, it means no, she said.
Creason’s project earned her a gold medal and second place in the advocacy category of the FCCLA Colorado convention in April, and she advanced to win a silver medal in July at the national FCCLA convention in San Diego.
She and her club adviser, Lynn Blakesley, who also is Creason’s family and consumer science teacher at Ignacio, attended the convention with 4,000 competitors from around the nation and 8,000 participants, including exchange students from Japan.
There were 200 students competing in the advocacy category and included topics such as environmental causes, literacy, human trafficking, and campaigns urging drivers not to text
Creason said she hopes she can show other Ignacio students that they can succeed in national competition, as well.
“I’m very proud of her,” Blakesley said. “These can be touchy discussions, and she did a great job. It’s so important that everyone understands they have every right to say ‘no.’”
IHS offers a teen choices class that discusses domestic and dating violence, as well as sexuality, Blakesley said.
“It is addressed in school, but it’s an elective. Everybody needs to be a part of the discussion.”