Lawmaker proposes education on sexual consent in schools - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Lawmaker proposes education on sexual consent in schools

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A bill filed in Springfield this month aims to educate kids on the meaning of sexual consent.

House Bill 3550 would add the additional requirement for schools that already teach sex education.

"It really defines, clearly, what consent is and what consent is not," Carlee Coplea, a prevention educator with the Women's Center said.

Coplea teaches kids in the area about a number of social issues, including sexual abuse.

"When it comes to our children, we really need to make sure that we're teaching them specifics, like what is OK, what is not OK," Coplea said. "There's no room for gray area here."

The bill defines consent in a number of ways, specifying that consent to one act isn't consent for other acts.

"It doesn't mean that because I've said yes one time, that all my future answers will be yes," Coplea said.

It also said the lack of resistance because of a threat isn't consent, either.

"There can't be consent if there's an act of coercion or threats," Coplea said.

And the bill states a person's manner of dress does not constitute consent.

"A dress is not a yes, of course not," Coplea said. "People are assaulted in all different types of garments and clothing."

Illinois doesn't require schools to teach sex education at all, but it does have requirements for schools that do.

24 states do require sex education and only eight require discussions of consent.

The bill's sponsor, State Rep. Ann Williams, (D) Chicago, said the time is now for Illinois to join those states.

"While we anticipate Illinois will revisit the issue of sex-ed more broadly in the future, we are here to ensure that consent is at the forefront of any conversation," Williams said.

And supporters say having that conversation with kids in school will ultimately lead to fewer sexual assaults.

More than two dozen lawmakers have signed-on as co-sponsors of House Bill 3550.

No votes have been scheduled since the bill was assigned to the Rules Committee earlier this month.

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