California Becomes First State To Make Sexual Consent Lessons Mandatory In High Schools Beginning Next Year
California Governor Jerry Brown's office announced Thursday that the state will require all high schools statewide to teach students about sexual consent. Brown's approval of the measure made California the first U.S. state to take such move.
Last year, the state became the first nationwide to require colleges and universities to adopt the affirmative consent policy during campus sexual assault investigations. The policy states that sexual activity will only be deemed consensual if both parties clearly declared their willingness to participate through a voluntary, conscious, and affirmative agreement.
"California must continue to lead the nation in educating our young people - both women and men - about the importance of respect and maintaining healthy peer and dating relationships," said Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chávez after the measure passed the Assembly in September.
The new law mandates all school districts that have made health a graduation requirement to lecture students about sexual violence prevention and affirmative consent starting next year. It also urges state education officials to include those topics to their high school health curriculum, Lisa Leff of The Washington Post wrote. The measure did not receive any opposition in the Legislature, and even nearly received a unanimous bipartisan backing.
The affirmative consent law only applies to districts that require the health course for high school graduation. The Legislative Analyst's Office said five of California's largest districts, including the Los Angeles Unified, have such graduation requirement. The new law is set to take effect on Jan. 1, but the commission for the California Education Department is not scheduled to update the health education guidelines until 2018.
In addition, Brown signed a new law mandaing all school districts to offer comprehensive sex education courses twice for grades 7 through 12. Sex education is currently not required in the state, but majority of school districts offer it. The AB 329, presented by Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, also includes changes to the HIV prevention instruction provided in schools.
Parents, meanwhile, would be allowed to remove their child from some or all of the state's sex education curriculum.