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How Explaining Consent To Silver Lake Third Graders Became Part Of The National Conversation

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It was hard to escape the heated debate surrounding now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's pending nomination last week. And kids were not immune to the discourse around sexual assault that came with those hearings.

While it's tough to shield children from such heavy subject matter, Liz Kleinrock, a third grade teacher at Citizens of the World Charter School in Silver Lake, turned the Kavanaugh headlines into teaching a moment through a lesson on consent.

Kleinrock's lesson got a lot of attention when she posted a classroom chart on Instagram and Facebook last month. Her posts led to coverage from the Washington Post, CNN, HuffPost and more, plus a spotlight on talk show The Real.

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"Consent seems like such an accessible, tangible thing for them to comprehend," Kleinrock said in an interview with A Martínez on KPCC's Take Two. "So many teachers talk about respecting physical space and using your words instead of your hands to communicate, so it seemed like a natural transition."

Kleinrock has also taught her class lessons on privilege, stereotypes and social justice. She says that lessons on consent were taught in every third grade class at Citizens of the World Charter School.

To make the lesson kid friendly, Kleinrock used the word in a nonsexual context. Giving permission was described as consent in the classroom -- a nod to the dictionary definition of the word.

Kleinrock said she didn't receive pushback from parents on the lesson, saying they were receptive to the idea. The conversation on consent brought up questions even adults might struggle with, such as nonverbal cues.

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"We had to get into some of the nuances around body language and tone, which are difficult things to read," Kleinrock said.

Like any other lesson, she hopes her students will be able to take what they've learned in the classroom about consent and apply it to their everyday lives.

"I hope that they remember moving forward, that if they ever feel physically uncomfortable, there are a lot of different ways to say 'no,'" she said.

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