Rhode Island state Rep. Joseph Solomon has introduced a bill that would encourage schools to teach consent in sexual education classes.
The Warwick Democrat tells The Providence Journal he was inspired to present the bill because of the Me Too movement and recent sexual-offense allegations that brought to light confusion surrounding consent.
The state's current policies on sex education do not prevent public school teachers from discussing consent. Following suggestions from a hearing on the bill Wednesday, Solomon says he is open to making consent a requirement in teachings starting in kindergarten.
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The Providence Journal reports Kirsten DiChiaparri, a Bristol resident and mother of two, told a State House committee in support of the bill Wednesday night that consent eduction was "incredibly important".
"I don’t think anyone can object to the idea of everyone having an understanding of what it is to have respectful mutual relationships. And I can tell way too many stories already of friends of my children who have experienced inappropriate advances or text messages and social media," DiChiaparri said.
Thirteen-year-old Aela Mansman also testified that teaching consent at an early age could prevent inappropriate behavior from grade-school students.
No one testified against the bill during the hearing.
Solomon says the bill would add language on teaching consent to a section of the law that says teaching abstinence to students is the preferred approach to sex education.
"Consent education goes far beyond the simplistic 'no means no.' It means teaching kids that a person agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. If we wait until young people go to college, then we wait too long," said Solomon.