Bills in the state Legislature would require schools to teach what’s called affirmative consent – or “yes means yes” — as part of sex education.
The “yes means yes” campaign says sex partners should voice their consent, and not assume the other person is willing. The approach is currently being tried in California.
Christopher Pepper is a teacher with San Francisco Unified School District who specializes in health education. He said students are responding well.
“Having this language where the state says we endorse affirmative consent, we think that it’s a good standard for healthy relationships, really helps give some backing to young people who are saying we want to be treated with respect,” he said.
New York went a step further and requires colleges adopt affirmative consent policies – not just education about the practice.
Carol Stenger is the Director of the Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence at the University at Albany – State University of New York.
“So occasionally you get students who are saying things like, well that’s just not the way it works. Sex doesn’t work like that in our culture,” she said. “But for the most part we’ve gotten more positive than negative feedback.”
One bill in the Senate has been waiting on a committee hearing since October. Another was introduced in the House in March. Representatives in both chambers say there isn’t a plan yet for the bills.