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Democrats unveil “Yes Means Yes” bills meant to prevent campus sexual assaults

Sep 15, 2015

Credit Jeremy Brooks / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

If some Democrats in Lansing get their way, all high school sex education classes would teach that “yes means yes” when it comes to sex.

The legislation says anything short of a conscious “yes” does not count as consent to sex.

  

State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, says students need to learn that before they go to college.

“We are faced with an epidemic that is making our college campuses unsafe and it can no longer be ignored,” said Hertel.

“The situation has become untenable. And it’s clear that we need to do more to educate our children before they go to college.”

Under the legislation, students would learn that silence and lack of resistance do not count as consent, that consent can be rescinded at any point during a sexual encounter, and that the existence of a dating relationship between two people doesn’t imply consent.

Michigan does not require that districts have a sex education program in any grade. As of 2012, the Michigan Department of Education says 92% of schools had a sex education program. That could mean a school has one class on reproductive health.

The state does require that certain things be taught by any school that chooses to have such a sex education program. For example, state law requires that programs “discuss the benefits of abstaining from sex until marriage and the benefits of ceasing sex if a pupil is sexually active.”

Hertel says it’s up to sex education boards in each district to decide how those requirements are taught, and the consent requirement would be no different.

The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Republican-led legislature.

A number of Michigan universities have come under federal investigation for how they’ve handled reports of sexual assault.