LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D–Meridian Twp.) and State Representative Tom Cochran (D–Mason) today announced new legislation aimed at preventing sexual assault on college campuses by educating young adults about affirmative consent.

“College-aged women are four times more likely than any other age group to face sexual assault. We are facing an epidemic on college campuses across the U.S. and here in Michigan,” Sen. Hertel said. “We cannot continue to turn our backs on our kids. It’s on us to make sure they are educated and prepared to go off to college.”

The legislation, set to be introduced Wednesday, would require Michigan schools that choose to teach sex education to have a more robust conversation about sexual consent. The bill would require the teaching of affirmative consent, where both parties consciously agree that they want to engage in sex. It also:

  • Clarifies that silence and lack of resistance do not constitute consent;
  • That consent can be rescinded at any point during the sexual encounter; and,
  • That the existence of a dating relationship between two people doesn’t imply consent.

“Given the recent upsurge in campus sexual assault cases, it’s clear that our current statute simply doesn’t put enough emphasis on what consent means,” said Rep. Cochran, sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives. “Teaching our kids about affirmative consent is a great first step in the fight against the epidemic of sexual assault.”

The legislation is largely modeled off of California’s “Yes Means Yes” bill that was signed into law last year and that requires students get explicit affirmative consent when engaging in sex. It also specifies that consent cannot be given if one party is drunk, drugged, asleep or unconscious — all factors that must be adhered to when colleges investigate cases of sexual assault.

“We need to expand our teaching beyond ‘NO means NO’ and ‘sexual assault is wrong.’ We need to teach that healthy relationships, by definition, require respect, understanding boundaries and obtaining consent,” said Kathy Hagenian, executive policy director of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. “Educating teens about consent and open communication in regards to physical intimacy in relationships does not promote sexual activity — in fact, research and experience shows the opposite is true.”

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