Michigan state legislature to propose 'Yes Means Yes' bill

Democrats in the Michigan state legislature are set to propose a “Yes Means Yes” bill this week.

State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. and State Representative Tom Cochran said Tuesday they will propose the bill in an effort to combat sexual assault.

The legislation proposes additions to the state’s standard high school sexual education curriculum to teach the “yes means yes” concept of sexual consent.

If the bill is passed, the state’s curriculum will be changed to “teach pupils that in order for consent to be given by both parties to sexual activity it must be affirmative consent.”

"Affirmative consent means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity,” the proposed legislation states.

Additionally, the bill declares that it is the partner’s responsibility to achieve affirmative consent and that any lack of protest or utter silence is not sexual consent.

“We are faced with an epidemic that is making our college campuses unsafe and it can no longer be ignored,” said Senator Hertel, in a statement to Michigan Radio. “The situation has become untenable. And it’s clear that we need to do more to educate our children before they go to college.”

“Affirmative consent is a dangerous policy and we [should] strongly oppose it,” stated Gina Lauterio, policy project director for Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), in an email to Campus Reform.

“Yes means yes flips the burden of proof onto the accused student, who then must show how he or she received consent for each particular sexual activity.”

SAVE is a non-profit organization located in Rockville, Maryland, that advocates for victims of sexual assault as well as those falsely accused of sexual assault.

“Affirmative consent is not requiring consent, it’s requiring a certain type of consent, and thus two consenting individuals can still be in violation of it—it completely abridges students’ free speech, privacy, and due process rights,” Lauterio said.

Similar “yes means yes” bills have been passed in other states across the country. California was the first to make affirmative consent law, followed by New York. Colleges in states without such laws have also established affirmative consent policies on their campuses, such as the University of Colorado and the University of Alaska.

“Affirmative consent outlaws 99% of consensual, healthy sexual activity, and students who don’t follow the policy are then deemed criminals. That’s scary,” Lauterio said. “To be accused of sexual assault or rape is very serious and we need to not implement new policies and definitions until they are well thought out and there is a broader consensus of these issues.”

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