A bill introduced by California State Senators Kevin de León (D) and Hannah-Beth Jackson (D) that aims to prevent sexual assault in the state’s high schools has passed the California Assembly with bipartisan support.
Recent attention on sexual assault has surrounded mainly colleges, but the pair recognized that sexual assault is also a critical issue in high schools. That’s why earlier this year they introduced SB 695, which would combat sexual violence in the state’s high schools by including curricula about rape and consent in health classes.
Sen. Jackson said in a press release:
“If we want to prevent sexual assault, it’s important that we start early. This bill will ensure that discussions about healthy relationships and consent are taking place in high school, with young women and young men, so we can help establish boundaries of acceptable behavior.”
This pending legislation comes on the heels of another bill that was also introduced by De León last year and was recently enacted. The affirmative consent law was the “first application of the ‘yes means yes’ concept in the country.”
Rather than depending on the popular mantra “no means no,” consent under this legislation requires an “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” It helps to combat the harmful idea that the survivor must have actively resisted in order for rape to have occurred and put more of an onus on prevention.
This new bill, SB 695, takes those same notions to the state’s high schools, stating that high schoolers are the “most vulnerable population” and that educating them is “paramount to reducing the number of incidents.”
Women between 18-24 experience the highest rates of sexual assault. Sofie Karasek, co-founder of End Rape on Campus, believes the bill could go a long way in combating the epidemic.
“Educating students about consent, respect, and healthy relationships is vital to eradicating sexual violence on campuses and beyond, and I hope that other states will follow suit.”
The California Senate had already passed the bill in a unanimous vote. The bill will now go back to the Senate for a final vote and if it passes, heads to the Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
Media Resources: Ms. Magazine 6/5/2015, De Leon Office Press release 9/2/2015;