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California lawmakers to require ‘yes means yes’ education for high school students

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California lawmakers are a step closer to making the state’s high school students the first in the nation to have mandatory education in the “yes means yes” sexual consent standard that it recently adopted on college campuses.

State senators this week unanimously passed SB 695, which would require high schools that have a health education requirement for graduation to include training on affirmative consent.

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“This bill represents the next step in the fight to change behavior towards women, particularly young women,” said the acting Senate president, Kevin de Leon, co-author of the bill, before the vote. “California must continue to lead the nation in educating our young people, both woman as well as young men, about the importance of respect and maintaining healthy peer and dating relationships.”

California last September became the first US state to require that all state colleges receiving public funds use a “yes means yes” standard when investigating sexual assaults. The definition of consensual is “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity”.

It also specifies that “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent”. Consent can be verbal or non-verbal but being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can negate a person’s ability to give consent.

De Leon pointed out during his remarks that sexual activity “does not start in college. This starts in high school or sometimes even before that,” he said, adding that young adults’ first exposure to the new standard needed to happen before they started college. He said that between 1995 and 2013 girls aged 18 to 24 were most likely to be victims of sexual assault.

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Women not enrolled in college were 1.2 times as likely to be raped or sexually assaulted compared with those in higher education, according to a US justice department study, adding to the need to reach young adults before they leave the public school system. That study also found that about 80% of assault victims said they knew their attacker.

California’s “yes means yes” standard is spreading to college campuses nationwide. New York has already followed suit for its public campuses and states including Maryland, New Hampshire and Colorado are considering it.

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However affirmative consent has caused some controversy, with critics fearing that it imposes a difficult standard to navigate.

Emilie Mitchell, a professor of human sexuality at American River College in Sacramento, part of the largest community college system in California, said the controversy would likely subside as students became familiar with the concept.

She compared “yes means yes” to the advent of sexual harassment workplace laws, when critics feared common actions such as complimenting a co-worker could be deemed illegal. She will be teaching “yes means yes” to students for the first time next semester and said the focus was on “mutual responsibility.”

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“It used to be ‘Did you say no? Did you explicitly say no?’” she said.

Her course will teach that both participants are equally responsible for consent. “Affirmative consent is really obvious. If someone says ‘Yeah, that feels great, let’s keep doing it,’ that’s affirmative consent,” she said. “Sex is a mutually negotiated agreement, not ‘If you don’t like it you’d better speak up.’”

The bill next moves to the California state assembly for debate.

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guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Dick Cheney raising money for Trump’s re-election — with White House staffers Ivanka and Jared: report

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney is raising money for President Donald Trump's re-election at a fundraiser in a ritzy western resort town.

"Former vice president Richard B. Cheney and his daughter, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), are to appear at a lunch fundraiser Monday in support of President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee, according to an invitation to the event," The Washington Post reported Saturday. "The luncheon fundraiser in Jackson, Wyo., will feature White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, along with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney as 'special guests,' according to the invitation, which was obtained by The Washington Post."

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On Saturday, the Atlanta Black Star reported an incident in Florida, in which a white woman screamed racial slurs at a black woman at a Publix supermarket in Miami after their shopping carts jostled each other.

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‘I’m a nurse, what are you?’: Tennessee lawmaker humiliates anti-choice activists in brutal public grilling

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Anti-choice activists in Tennessee were unprepared for the grilling they got from a Democratic Party lawmaker when making the case for a bill that would outlaw abortion before many women knew they were pregnant.

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"None," Davis replied.

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