Democratic Senator Kevin de León sponsored the bill
SACRAMENTO, CA – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a monumental bill into law that will require state schools to adopt a strict policy regarding sexual conduct between students. Schools that do not adopt the “Yes Means Yes” policy outlined in the new bill will risk losing state funding for financial aid.
The policy requires students to obtain “affirmative consent,” as opposed to passive compliance, prior to engaging in sexual behavior, making California the first state to clearly define sexual consent.
“Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent,” the bill states. “The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.”
The California law specifies that schools must adopt “detailed and victim-centered policies and protocols,” and has drawn support from many sexual assault survivors. These updated consent policies aim to provide a distinction between the lack of an explicit “No” and the presence of a clear “Yes” before engaging in sexual conduct. The responsibility of gaining consent will lie with the student initiating the act, as opposed to the intended sexual partner.
Sexual consent cannot be obtained from an individual under any influence of drugs or alcohol, must be given throughout the sexual act, and can be revoked at any time, according to the new law.
“I don’t think there are words to describe how monumental this is for survivors of sexual assault — female, male or otherwise,” Savannah Badalich, University of California, Los Angeles student and founder of the group 7,000 in Solidarity, told VICE News.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Kevin de Leon, as part of a nationwide shift in the investigation and prevention of sexual assault and the handling of sexual assault cases on college campuses. The law was passed in response to a list of 55 colleges being investigated for their handling of sexual misconduct and sexual assault cases that was released by the Department of Education earlier this year.
California says Yes to the “Yes Means Yes Law,” making the state the first to clearly define sexual consent
1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while in college, according to a White House report “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action.” California’s new bill aims to lower this statistic by removing the ambiguities surrounding consent.
“The State of California will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug,” said state Sen. de Leon in a statement Sunday night. “We’ve shifted the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice, and healing.”