LANSING — State Rep. Tom Cochran (D-Mason) is introducing “Yes Means Yes” legislation that would change how Michigan schools teach sex education. Under this legislation, which has already been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Curtis Hertel (SB 620), Michigan schools that choose to teach sex education will have a more nuanced discussion on sexual assault, dating violence, bystander intervention, and most importantly, on the issue of affirmative consent.
“Our current statute does not place enough emphasis on what consent means,” Rep. Cochran said. “This legislation will expand our teaching beyond obsolete understandings of ‘no means no,’ and will serve as a legislative tool to shift toward a culture of ‘yes means yes.’ We need to teach our kids that there is more to it than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If someone is too scared to say ‘no,’ that’s not consent. If someone initially says ‘yes,’ but then changes their mind, that’s not consent. Silence is not consent.”
Rep. Cochran’s bill would require schools that teach sex education to include lessons on affirmative consent, and will clarify:
- That consent to sexual activity must be affirmative, consciously given and involve a voluntary agreement.
- That each individual involved in a sexual activity must ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other prior to engaging in sexual activity.
- That lack of protest or resistance doesn’t constitute consent.
- Silence doesn’t mean consent.
- Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.
- The existence of a dating relationship or past sexual relations between them does not indicate consent.
“Right now, college-aged women are four times more likely than any age group to face sexual assault. We need to change the culture around sexual activity. I believe that change can start with educating our kids on the meaning of ‘yes means yes.’ Simply hearing ‘no’ is not enough,” Rep. Cochran said. “By revising Michigan’s sex education curriculum, this bill will create an environment where students are taught that healthy relationships require both respect and consent.”