The YWCA York’s Victim Assistance Center will host several speakers Friday evening to recognize the start of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Due to forecasts of heavy rain, the event will be held at 5 p.m. in the YWCA York building at 320 E. Market St.

The event will feature Ronald Coursey, the athletic director for William Penn Senior High School, who will speak about the school’s “Coaching Boys Into Men” program, according to Crystal Patterson, marketing coordinator for YWCA York.

Coursey’s after-school program promotes respectful behavior among athletes and teaches students what healthy relationships look like and that assault and abuse are never the right answers, Patterson said.

YWCA York’s Victim Assistance Center provides crisis intervention, information, advocacy, ongoing counseling and support to the people of York County who are victims of sexual violence or other violent crimes.

The theme of this year's Sexual Assault Awareness Month is "Engaging New Voices," said Jessica Castle, community education director for YWCA York, with advocates looking to reach male students and bring them into the sexual assault conversation.

After Friday evening’s kickoff event, the YWCA York will partner with York College on a “red flag” awareness campaign, Patterson said.

Red flags will be displayed across the college campus, some printed with messages telling victims where to find help and other resources, Patterson said, while others will feature messages that force students to think about sexual assault.

One of those messages will read: “He said if I really loved him, I’d have sex with him,” according to Patterson.

Last week, York College hired Elizabeth Grubb to serve as the first coordinator of sexual assault education and programs for the school, using a grant from the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Violence Against Women.

The purpose of the nationwide "red flag" campaign is to promote bystander intervention by showing students that everyone is accountable for the safety of their campus and highlighting potential warning signs of sexual assault, domestic violence and unhealthy relationships, Castle said.

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