New sexual consent stage play for secondary schools premieres

From left to right) Gavin Friel, Megan-Jane Devlin Larsen, Ailish McDonagh and Ikenna Anyabuike in ‘How I Learned About Consent’ (2022)
Oct 24 2022 Posted: 14:38 IST

‘How I Learned About Consent’ uses the format of drama to educate senior cycle students in ways to navigate positive and negative sexual scenarios they or their friends may encounter or experience

A sexual consent education play is to be rolled out for secondary schools across Ireland as part of the University of Galway-based Active* Consent for School Communities programme, it was announced today (24.10.22).

A premiere of the play ‘How I Learned About Consent’ was staged today at the University of Galway’s O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, attended by students and teachers from a number of secondary schools.

‘How I Learned About Consent’ uses the format of a stage play and features a cast of actors to educate secondary students in communication skills along with methods for navigating positive and negative scenarios around sexual consent.

The narrative of the play tackles topics ranging from sex education in schools, image-based sexual abuse, gender and sexual identities, to supporting a friend following a negative sexual experience. The play addresses these topics through age-appropriate humour and satire, drama and direct engagement with issues that young people may face concerning sexual harassment and assault.

Announcing the launch of the play today, Dr Charlotte McIvor, Active* Consent programme lead and director-creator of ‘How I Learned About Consent’, said: “The play is designed to equip secondary students with a proactive understanding of consent for them to apply to their future sexual encounters as well as out in the world, as possible bystanders to sexual violence and/or harassment.

“It uses drama to bring to life stories and scenarios in order to address the barriers to consent communication, which secondary school students told us they were experiencing in our 2021 Active* Consent for School Communities report, including awkwardness or embarrassment, shyness, lack of knowledge or skills, and feeling pressurised.”

Also commenting, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins, Active* Consent programme lead and secondary schools programme outreach coordinator, said: “’How I Learned About Consent’ also allows us to stage positive examples of consent communication in an age-appropriate manner, sharing stories of young people experiencing solidarity and support from peers and/or partners as they develop a clear and strong sexual identity.

“We do this by using drama to also stage scenarios that deal with what young people told us about what positive consent communication looks like in our 2021 Active* Consent for School Communities report, including having trust and openness with your partner, communication, confidence, awareness and education.” 

Active* Consent for School Communities Resources

‘How I Learned About Consent’ is the latest part of the Active* Consent for School Communities programme for senior cycle pupils. The play was created using learning from the Active* Consent for School Communities 2021 report, as well as ongoing work in the School Communities programme. ‘How I Learned About Consent’ links with the other components of the Active* Consent for School Communities programme, which include a sexual consent workshop, the ‘Sex on Our Screens’ eLearning resource on sexual media, and support for teachers and parents.

Since it launched one year ago, more than 500 teachers have been trained to deliver the Active* Consent workshop, nearly 1,000 parents have attended information webinars, and approximately 4,000 pupils have taken part in the workshop.

Among pupils who have taken part in the workshop, 76% agreed that they were more aware of the importance of sexual consent after taking part, 79% agreed that the workshop showed how they could communicate with a partner, and 82% would recommend the workshop to other young people.

‘How I Learned About Consent’ is supported by a funding award from The Community Foundation for Ireland’s Youth Fund.

The roll-out of ‘How I Learned About Consent’ to secondary schools follows on from the current all-Ireland tour of Active* Consent’s version of the same play for third-level students, titled ‘The Kinds of Sex You Might Have at College’, which is touring 19 higher education institutions this autumn. 

For contact information for Active* Consent, see the official website at


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