How might we make consent a more approachable topic for teens?

The DOUGH Means DOUGH team began their journey in September of 2016 discussing healthy relationships. Through discussions and research, the team identified that teens don’t feel comfortable discussing consent with partners. From there, the team morphed, tackling the idea of how to clarify consent in teen relationships. The team went through the design thinking process, beginning with a survey sent to members of One Stone in order to collect information about consent and sexual education. The team was heavily influenced by Al Vernacchio’s TEDx talk, “Sex Needs A New Metaphor.”

The team spent several meetings discussing the best way to make the topic of consent approachable for teens. Through prototyping and testing the team landed on an event at One Stone headquarters highlighting team pizza-making and facilitating consent-practicing activities. The title of their event, and team, DOUGH Means DOUGH, is a play on the phrase, “no means no,” and an acronym: Discussed Openly to Understand Green-lights and Hesitations. After the first implementation which brought 20 participants from around Boise, the team took a condensed version of their event to the Boise High Street Fair in order to further expand their audience.


Before the event, only about 60% of attendees felt comfortable defining consent. After the DOUGH Means DOUGH event, 85% of participants felt comfortable not only defining, but communicating their conceptions of consent.

Participants came to the conclusions that "consent isn't as difficult to understand as I thought" and "DOUGH Means DOUGH opened my eyes to how easy it can be to talk about consent." They realized that consent involves more than sex – it applies to our handling of all types of different situations and empowered decision making.

In their own words, "Consent is multi-dimensional: it's not just about sex, but about expressing all boundaries."

Participants said they felt "Inspired to spread the discussion about consent and consent culture," which proved that the DOUGH Means DOUGH team had succeeded in making consent an approachable topic for teens.

After months of hard work with the design thinking process, the student team spoke for themselves:

"In today's society there is a stigma against saying ‘no.’ By staying informed and knowing/feeling comfortable with your own boundaries, you can empower yourself and others to create a culture of consent, on a personal or community scale."

"The most valuable take-away from the event was having a clear definition of consent, but furthermore, knowing and feeling empowered that my feelings are legitimate."

Through the course of the project, the DOUGH Means DOUGH team engaged with over 100 high school students to make consent a more approachable topics for teens.