Speaker Justine Fonte discusses consent with upper school students for LIFE Program


Provided by Justine Fonte

Justine Fonte spoke with upper school students and parents about topics surrounding sex, consent, and positive relationships as part of the LIFE program.

by Sabrina Zhu, Assistant STEM Editor

The LIFE Program invited Justine Fonte to speak with upper school students about sexual consent on Feb. 4, covering topics like sex positivity and enthusiastic consent. Fonte also gave a “Sex 101” presentation to parents later on the same day. 

“I really liked how enthusiastic she was. I feel like a lot of times when it comes to sex-ed, it’s very hush hush or taboo, but she seemed really passionate about it. I feel like her energy made it a lot easier to listen to the presentation and for some of my friends, to focus on it,” Defne Avkarogullari (9) said.

Although freshmen and juniors have discussions on topics like healthy relationships, decision making and sexuality every year, Jane Keller, upper school LIFE director, felt a speaker event about consent would be helpful for all students.

“Consent is something that we address on a fairly regular basis that we try to educate our students about, and it’s a much broader topic than people realize,” Keller said. “The lack of education regarding consent has found people to allow themselves to do things they didn’t want to do and they really don’t realize until after.”

In her presentation, Fonte discussed themes like sex positivity and negativity, gender roles, and rape culture, using examples from modern entertainment and media. She answered questions from students and shared images of clothing and alcohol advertisements, songs and university posters related to sex and consent. Although the content in her two presentations largely overlapped, Fonte focused more on self-worth with the ninth and tenth graders and on pleasure with the eleventh and twelfth graders.

The LIFE Program decided to also present a related topic to the parents after realizing that the conversation would also be helpful for them. Parent education has been provided before frequently, especially with more sensitive topics.

“I always think that it is important that families are on the same page around the topics their young peoples are getting, so if I’m afforded an opportunity to speak to the parent environment as well, it will hopefully allow for communication around these things to transcend the school environment,” Fonte said.

As follow-up events, upper school counselor Jonah Alves and Keller were available to have discussions and answer questions about Fonte’s speaker event with students on Feb. 5, and alumna Daisy Mohrman (‘11) was available to speak about her experience with consent with students on Feb. 18.

“There’s a lot of misinformation [surrounding sex], and kids learn from each other. In high school, I didn’t go to my parents or teachers to learn about sex and relationships and dating, I went to my friends. No high schooler knows better than any other high schooler, so we were all just wandering around in the dark, giving each other bad advice,” Daisy said. “I wanted somebody to learn from my mistakes and to hear my story and hopefully not have the same story to tell.”

Additional reporting by Lucy Ge.