With conversations around "affirmative consent" gaining momentum on college campuses across the country, California's newest move for sex education reform is bringing the movement back to high school.
The new bill, signed by California's Governor Jerry Brown, calls for health classes to include lessons about sexual violence prevention and affirmative consent in their curriculum, The LA Times reports.
Los Angeles Senator Kevin De León, one of the co-authors of the bill, said in a statement on his website that California's high school students will now learn about "affirmative consent, healthy dating relationships and the harsh consequences of aggressive and violent sexual behavior" in their health classes.
The bill also states that the lessons and information shared must be "research based and appropriate for pupils of all races, genders, sexual orientations, gender identities, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds."
“I firmly believe that by instilling in young minds the importance of affirmative consent and relationships built on love and respect, that we can reduce the sexual violence inflicted on young women,” De León said in the statement. “Lessons taught today will result in safer campuses and communities tomorrow."
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who co-wrote the bill, said in the same press release that "it's important that we start early," when it comes to preventing sexual violence.
"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,” Jackson added.
Dr. Edward Trimis, Principal of Verdugo Hills High School in Los Angeles County, added that the bill provides "a great example... that helps us at the high school level to do the right thing and teach the right thing."
"In education we often are faced with unfunded mandates that are important, but difficult to implement," Trimis said in the statement. "We can, and will make it a regular part of our Health Curriculum to ensure ALL students are getting the same message, that not only does ‘no mean no,’ but ‘yes’ must be affirmed to mean a clear 'yes.' It’s the right thing to do and the right thing to teach.”
In an email to MTV News, Mahroh Jahangiri, the deputy director for youth power and strategic partnerships at Know Your IX, said California's bill is "a big step forward."
"When I was in high school, teachers ignored the harassment and violence in our hallways, despite their clear obligations under Title IX to prevent it," Jahangiri wrote. "It's encouraging to see California requiring schools to proactively teach students about healthy relationships, consent, and gender violence."
However, Jahangiri said that high school still isn't early enough to start having these conversations and giving out this information.
"For the 1 in 4 of us who experienced sexual violence long before crossing the graduation stage -- and for the 1 in 3 high school students who are already in an abusive relationship -- education has got to start much earlier," Jahangiri said.
For more information about sex education and sexual health, visit It's Your Sex Life.