In Steven Sater's punk rock musical, Spring Awakening, many complex topics are discussed throughout the show. These included consent, coming out, mental health, and body autonomy. To assist others with discussing these topics, we created an informative and resourceful content guide. Our content guide contains helpful strategies for discussing these topics with others and links to community resources related to each topics. Readers will find below a detailed overview of each of the four topics listed above along with educational videos which include fictional scenarios about each topic.
Table of Contents
- Coming Out
- Body Autonomy
- Mental Health
Consent is a clear and freely given agreement between participants to engage in a sexual activity. This agreement can be verbal and/or an affirmative expression (e.g. nodding yes) and can be withdrawn at any point if you feel uncomfortable or change your mind about participating. When asking for consent, it is important to note that participants cannot give consent if they are under the age of 18, intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, and asleep or unconscious. Additionally, everytime participants engage in a sexual activity, they should ask for consent from their partner and communicate what they are comfortable with because it is vital to express boundaries and expectations. Below are some examples of what consent can look like:
- Asking permission and/or if something is ok before engaging in various types of intimacy.
- Confirming that there is mutual interest before initiating any physical touch.
- Checking in with your partner and asking if what you’re doing is still ok.
- Letting your partner know that you can stop at any time.
It is also important to recognize what consent doesn’t look like. Below are examples of situations where a participant’s right to consent is being violated:
- Refusing to acknowledge being told “no” by your partner.
- Trying to engage with a partner who is unconscious or visibly upset.
- Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual activity with your partner because you’ve done it in the past.
- Pressuring someone into a sexual activity by using fear or intimidation.
In conclusion, when asking for and thinking about consent, remember the F.R.I.E.S acronym. FRIES stands for Freely given, Reversible, Enthusiastic, and Specific! Consent must include these five elements because they ensure both individuals agree to engage in intimacy. If you don’t have any of these important elements, when asking for consent, you shouldn’t engage in any sexual activities with your partner and instead should wait until you are able to get these elements.
If you would like more information about consent and topics related to consent, please visit the following websites:
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): https://www.rainn.org/understanding-consent
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800.656.HOPE (4673)
- Sexual assault service provider centers in Colorado: https://centers.rainn.org/?_ga=2.256062210.861172572.1674184155-1388494065.1674071624
- Helping Survivors of Sexual Assult: https://helpingsurvivors.org/
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800.273.TALK (8255)
- Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain, and Illness by Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg, Fran Odette: https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Guide-Sex-Disability-Disabilities/dp/1573443042
Coming out is when an LGTBQ+ individual shares their sexual orientation and/or gender identity with themselves and others. If you are an LGTBQ+ individual who is thinking of coming out, it is important to know that there are multiple ways to come out and there are no right or wrong ways to do so! Here are some examples on how you and/or another LGBTQ+ individual can come out:
- Call someone on the phone
- Send a text
- Write a letter
- Send an email
- Talk with someone in person
Additionally, it is also important to note that the best time to come out is whenever you feel comfortable and confident in doing so. If you are thinking of coming out, the Trevor Project recommends considering the following things:
- “ What time works best for me to come out?
- What time of day feels like a good time to share? (before school, after work, during dinner, etc.)
- Would I rather be in a public or private space?
- Does home feel like a safe place to talk?” (Trevor Project).
In conclusion, coming out can be a very difficult experience for an LGBTQ+ individual. It is vital that during this process, you are comforting and encouraging to whomever shares this information with you. If you would like more information about coming out and additional resources for the LGBTQ+ community, please visit the following resources:
- The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Coming-Out-Handbook.pdf
- One Colorado: https://one-colorado.org/lgbtq-resources/
- Colorado Community Resources: https://prideresourcecenter.colostate.edu/resources/northern-colorado-fort-collins-resoures/
Bodily autonomy is defined as an individual deciding what choices they want to make with their body. These choices can include not having sex, taking birth control, and going to the doctor. It is important to note that no one has the right to try and dictate what anyone does with their body because body autonomy is a fundamental right. To ensure your body autonomy isn’t violated, it is vital that you set boundaries (especially during intimacy) and express those to others, advocate for yourself, and don’t allow others to pressure you into situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Additionally, it is also important to take care of your body through eating healthy, exercising frequently, and visiting your health care provider when you are feeling sick. If you would like more information about women’s health, please visit the following website:
University of Colorado Women’s Health Doctors:
In 2023, taking care of your mental health is more important than ever before. If someone you know is struggling with their mental health, it is vital that you consider the following strategies before immediately intervening. This includes:
- Conducting a self evaluation. Asking yourself if you are prepared to offer meaningful support to this individual.
- Discussing your concerns with this individual. Explain you’ve noticed some concerning changes (e.g. they are no longer interested in participating in their favorite activities, they often have outburst of anger, etc) and make it known you are there to help.
- Encouraging them to speak to a mental health professional and letting them know you are willing to help set up the appointment.
Furthermore, if you believe this individual is suicidal, you should contact a mental health professional immediately and call a mental health crisis hotline. Some mental health crisis and suicidal hotlines include:
- 988 (National Suicide and Crisis hotline): https://988lifeline.org/about/
- 1-844-493-8255 (Colorado Crisis Services): https://coloradocrisisservices.org/#map
If you are hesitant to call a crisis or suicidal prevention hotlines, please visit the following resources which explain what happens when you call these specific hotlines:
- Colorado Crisis Services FAQ: https://coloradocrisisservices.org/faq/
- Active Minds: https://www.activeminds.org/blog/what-really-happens-when-you-reach-out-to-crisis-lines/
The Trevor Project. “COMING OUT: A Handbook for LGBTQ Young People.” https://www.thetrevorproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Coming-Out-Handbook.pdf. Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.
RAINN. “What Consent Looks Like.” www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent. Accessed 15 Jan. 2023.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center. “Warning Signs for Suicide.” Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.