LANSING — State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) testified in support of her bill, House Bill 5791, in the House Committee on Law and Justice this morning. The legislation would require school districts, intermediate school districts, and public school academies to disseminate informational materials to students in grades 6 through 12 including information about how to identify sexual assault or sexual harassment, an explanation that sexual assault or harassment is never the victims fault, and resources for those who have experienced sexual assault or harassment. Under this proposed legislation schools would also be encouraged to provide training to educators and school employees every 5 years on how to respond to pupils who have experienced sexual assault or harassment. 

“Last year the Progressive Women’s Caucus held a summer listening tour, and at every single town hall, women talked about the need to make sure our young people are taught about sexual assault and where to find victim resources while they are in school,” said Rep. Chang. “Young people need to know where to turn if they or someone they know experience sexual assault or harassment.”

Tamera Middlebrooks, a senior at Cass Technical High School, and Emma Ann Miller, a Nassar abuse survivor, echoed the necessity of the legislation, testifying in support of  HB 5791. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, 1 in 9 girls under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. Another source, closer to home, echoes these findings. Rep. Chang’s Girls Making Change fellowship participants conducted a peer survey in 2016 about sexual assault. This survey found that 68 percent of students know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, and 73 percent of students think they have not been given a proper education on interpersonal violence and what to do about it.

“This legislation was spurred by the conversations I had with high school girls in my district – who overwhelmingly believe that sexual assault education must take place in middle and high schools,” said Rep. Chang. “It is vital to listen to survivors of sexual assault to ensure that we are getting the policy right.”