With bi-partisan support, the California Assembly last week approved SB 695 (De León/Jackson), aimed at preventing sexual assault by formally educating high school students about affirmative consent, developing healthy peer and dating relationships, and the perils and harsh consequences of aggressive and violent sexual behavior.
“By teaching our youth about affirmative consent and healthy relationships, we can build a foundation for safer schools and streets for years to come,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).
Assemblymember Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside), who presented SB 695, said the Legislature should not be satisfied with the implementation of SB 967 – which required college campuses to adopt consistent survivor-centered sexual assault response policies and protocols for prevention, access to resources and fair adjudication proceedings.
“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,” Chávez said.
Jointly authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), SB 695 was inspired by SB 967 (De León/Jackson, 2014) – the first “Yes Means Yes” bill in the nation..
“If we want to prevent sexual assault, it’s important that we start early,” Jackson said. “This bill will ensure that discussions about healthy relationships and consent are taking place in high school, with young women and young men, so we can help establish boundaries of acceptable behavior, give students the skills they may need to navigate difficult situations, and prevent sexual assault before it occurs.”
Sofie Karasek, director of education and co-founder of End Rape on Campus, said educating students about consent, respect and healthy relationships is vital to eradicating sexual violence on campuses.
“I hope that other states will follow suit,” she said.
Between 1995 and 2013, women between 18-24 experienced the highest rate of rape and sexual assault. Of those attending college, 80 percent knew their assailants.
SB 695 now returns to the Senate for a final floor vote and, if approved, heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.
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