Starting the Conversation

Welcome to “Starting the Conversation.” The lessons and materials of this program address the growing problem of relationship violence among high school athletes and aim to help Texas students create a positive team and school culture where aggressive, abusive attitudes and behaviors in relationships do not occur. This program features vignettes, resources, conversation starters, role-playing scenarios, and personal reflections to achieve the following goals:

  • Reduce relationship violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment, and online abuse/harassment by empowering students to create a culture of respect and to hold themselves and their peers accountable.

  • Enhance students’ empathy and perspective-taking, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Many coaches and educators feel uncomfortable starting conversations with their athletes about relationships and intimacy. While some hesitancy is understandable, with the right tools coaches can be proactive in addressing these topics. “Starting the Conversation” gives students opportunities to develop the skills and perspectives required for healthy, satisfying relationships.

To begin, download and print the Coach Starter Kit.



Lesson 1: Recognizing the Issue

Lesson 1 starts the conversation by "Recognizing the Issue." In Lesson 1, students

  • identify behaviors that constitute sexual bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault;

  • distinguish between acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors—ranging from sexual harassment, sexual bullying, name-calling, objectifying others, and using guilt, manipulation, pressure, or force of any kind; and

  • develop skills to discuss challenges related to relationship violence and sexual bullying.

Lesson 1 asks students to consider the following essential questions:

  • What are sexual bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault? What makes them different from appropriate relationship behaviors?

  • To what extent are sexual bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault problems at our school?

To begin, download and print Lesson 1: Recognizing the Issue.

The video below is to be viewed and discussed during the "Explore" portion of Lesson 1.

Lesson 2: Attitudes and Consent

The conversation deepens in "Lesson 2: Attitudes and Consent" as students

  • compare and contrast healthy and unhealthy relationships,

  • explore how seemingly minor behaviors and attitudes can escalate into aggressive ones, and

  • identify what does and does not constitute consent.

Students explore answers to the following essential questions in Lesson 2:

  • How can otherwise “good people” do harmful things when it comes to dating and intimacy?

  • How can common behaviors and attitudes escalate into aggressive or controlling behaviors that lead to unhealthy or abusive relationships?

To begin, download and print Lesson 2: Attitudes and Consent.

The video below is to be viewed and discussed during the "Explore" portion of Lesson 2. 

Lesson 3: Building a Team of Leaders

The conversation turns to leadership in "Lesson 3: Building a Team of Leaders." In this lesson, students

  • identify steps they can take when someone they know is affected by an unhealthy relationship and what they can do if they witness behavior or language related to sexual bullying, harassment, or assault (become “upstanders” instead of “bystanders”);

  • develop an explicit moral framework as individuals and as a team (Team Honor Code); and

  • demonstrate leadership to influence a positive peer culture in the school.

In Lesson 3, students are challenged to ask themselves the following essential question: 

  • How can we become leaders in preventing sexual violence, bullying, and harassment by modeling healthy behaviors and being "upstanders" instead of bystanders?

To begin, download and print Lesson 3: Building a Team of Leaders.

The video below is to be viewed and reflected upon during the "Explore" portion of Lesson 3.