The legislator behind California’s affirmative consent bill for college students is trying to spread the yes-means-yes message even further – to high schools.
Kevin de Leon, a state senator from Los Angeles, said in a press release that SB 695 would “transform high school health curricula to educate adolescents on sexual assault prevention.”
Health courses required for graduation would have to provide “instruction on sexual assault, violence, and the importance of developing positive, healthy relationships,” using the affirmative-consent standard enacted into California law last fall.
Affirmative consent backers don’t agree internally what qualifies as consent – some say that every new sexual move must get verbal approval, while others say that nonverbal cues such as a head nod will suffice. SB 695 assumes it will be obvious: “Only an explicit ‘yes,’ either through verbal or nonverbal communication, means consent.”
One of the college bill’s backers acknowledged “your guess is as good as mine” as to how students would prove they had consent for a particular sexual activity with a partner.
De Leon explained his motivation:
We’ve created a culture that’s so anti-young woman, we need to decrease the amount of misogyny that’s taking place. Young men are going to have to stand up. They can’t remain voiceless on this issue, and it’s going to have to start in high school. This legislation will focus on prevention by educating high school students about affirmative consent and healthy relationships.
The release makes no mention of the problematic statistic that 1 in 5 women in college will be raped – widely questioned in the media by now – and instead cites the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey’s finding that 42 percent of “female rape victims were first raped before age 18.”
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