Rape and Consent

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Sexual assault has become a fiery issue nationwide in recent years, driven by high-profile incidents on college campuses and in the military.

Many colleges, including Oklahoma’s largest universities, conduct sexual assault education programs. Less attention has been paid to the problem at high schools, although cases have surfaced this year in Norman, Moore, Tulsa, Muskogee and elsewhere.

This year, California began implementing a law requiring sexual consent education in high schools using a “yes means yes,” or affirmative consent, standard. Under the policy, “’affirmative consent’ means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity,” California law states. “It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity.”

A House bill introduced last year by Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, would have allowed school districts to teach affirmative consent in sex-education or separate programs in grades 7 through 12. Parents could opt their children out. The bill was assigned to the House education committee but did not advance.

In 2015, an Association of American Universities survey of more than 150,000 students at 27 universities found that 23 percent of female undergraduates experienced unwanted sexual contact by force, threats or incapacitation; nearly 11 percent penetration was involved.