Bill would require high schoolers to learn about legal consent

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bill that would require high schoolers to learn the meaning of legal consent is heading to the governor’s desk.

“If the first time we’re teaching and discussing these issues is when they’re in orientation for college or at a later date then we’ve really missed the boat,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax County. “We really need to start the education process earlier.”

It’s the reason Filler-Corn says she introduced the bill that would require sex education classes across the state to teach teens the meaning of legal consent.

“Females between the ages of 16 and 19 are four times more likely to experience sexual assault,” said Linda Tissiere with the YWCA of Richmond.

Tissiere says their organization already teaches high schoolers about healthy relationships and what consent means, which she says is eye opening for many teens.

“Consent isn’t just the mere absence of saying no, it’s actually having to say yes,” said Tissiere.

And she says it goes beyond sex.

“Whether it’s holding hands out in public or putting their arms around each other in the movie theater,” Tissiere added.

Advocates say the goal of early education is to hopefully cut down on troubling numbers when it comes to sexual assaults. The CDC says nearly one in five women have been raped at some time in their lives.

“Whether it be domestic violence, or campus sexual assault. I think if we start the education early, we’ll reduce the number of instances,” said Filler-Corn.

The YWCA is holding an event next week on February 22 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. at their offices at 6 N. 5th Street in Richmond, where you can hear from Richmond teens during a Q&A. The panel will talk about how they feel adults can best talk to them about hard to talk about but vital topics like consent. Click here to RSVP.