Violence Against Women

Affirmative Consent Education May Soon Be the Norm for California High School Students

California legislation aimed at preventing sexual assault and educating high school students on healthy relationships is poised to become law, as it passed the California Assembly Education Committee last week.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

Senate Bill 695 passed through the Education Committee unanimously with a bipartisan vote of 6-0. The bill provides new requirements for public high school health classes- which most California high schools require for graduation- that include instruction on affirmative consent and healthy relationships as well as sexual harassment, assault, violence.  These new educational requirements are aimed at informing students on these issues before they reach college campuses, where instances of rape and sexual assault are high.

“It’s no longer acceptable to say ‘boys will be boys’ as an excuse for rape or dating violence. We need to broaden our perspective beyond college campuses,” said Avni Parikh, co-founder of Students for Sexual Respect, a group aiming to a consent-based culture for young people in sexual relationships.

“The statistics show we are not doing nearly enough. We can and must educate the youth of our state, especially our young men, about affirmative consent and healthy relationships to change behavior toward young women,” said Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D- Los Angeles), joint-author of the bill. Joint-author Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), and chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, added “If we want to prevent sexual assault, it’s important that we start early, before our young people reach adulthood.”

Just last fall, California passed the affirmative consent “Yes Means Yes” bill for its colleges and universities, removing all ambiguity from rules about consent- the first law of its kind. It radically changed the standard of proving sexual assault, which previously required victims of sexual assault to demonstrate that they did not consent. Instead, affirmative consent has to be continually given throughout the sexual activity and can be revoked at any time and does not include silence, lack of resistance, or “consent” given while intoxicated. All people involved in the sexual activity must ensure that they have the affirmative consent of others.

Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 9/2/14; GovBuddy Press Release 7/2/15; 7/2/15

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