The consent policy of “yes means yes” communicated on college campuses throughout the state of California will soon enter into some high schools in the state as well in an effort to include more lessons on sexual consent.
A health course is already required by school districts in order for students to graduate. The new bill signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown will require those courses to add on lessons concerning the “yes means yes” mentality, as well as sexual assault prevention. Both of these issues are already taught in colleges and universities across the state.
“Yes means yes” teaches students that sex is only consensual if both parties clearly state their willingness to participate.
Los Angeles Senator Kevin De León, co-author of the bill, released a statement on his website saying that students in the state will now learn about “affirmative consent, healthy dating relationships and the harsh consequences of aggressive and violent sexual behavior” in their health classes.
“I firmly believe that by instilling in young minds the importance of affirmative consent and relationships built on love and respect, that we can reduce the sexual violence inflicted on young women,” De León said in the statement. “Lessons taught today will result in safer campuses and communities tomorrow.”
Supporters of the move say that it is needed in order to teach teens about healthy sexual relationships and boundaries prior to entering college life or the workforce, writes Matt Keller for ABC7 News.
“I think it’s great because as students, we don’t know a lot about sex. And when we have boyfriends and they abuse us we don’t know what to do. I think if we learn, then we know how to prevent it,” said Amanda Kotov, a high school senior.
Mahroh Jahangiri, the deputy director for youth power and strategic partnerships at Know Your IX, called the law “a big step forward.” However, she added that conversations pertaining to sexual education need to start at a much earlier age, reports Katherine Speller for MTV.
“For the 1 in 4 of us who experienced sexual violence long before crossing the graduation stage — and for the 1 in 3 high school students who are already in an abusive relationship — education has got to start much earlier,” Jahangiri said.
The law would also require comprehensive sex education classes to be offered in all school districts twice between the 7th and 12th grades. In addition, HIV prevention lessons must be updated, students of all sexual orientations included, and new language added concerning teen relationship abuse and sex trafficking.
Parents will still have the right to opt their children out of the health course.