California Legislature passes ‘yes means yes’ bill

Topics: From the Wires,

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — State lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that would make California the first state to define when “yes means yes” while investigating sexual assaults on college campuses.

The Senate unanimously passed SB967 as states and universities across the U.S. are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations. The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated his stance on the bill.

Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said his bill would begin a paradigm shift in how California campuses prevent and investigate sexual assault. Rather than using the refrain “no means no,” the definition of consent under the bill requires “an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision” by each party to engage in sexual activity.

“With this measure, we will lead the nation in bringing standards and protocols across the board so we can create an environment that’s healthy, that’s conducive for all students, not just for women, but for young men as well too, so young men can develop healthy patterns and boundaries as they age with the opposite sex,” de Leon said before the vote.



Advocates for victims of sexual assault supported the change as one that will provide consistency across campuses and challenge the notion that victims must have resisted assault in order to have valid complaints. Some critics say the legislation is overreaching and sends universities into murky, unfamiliar legal waters.

The bill would apply to all California post-secondary schools, public and private, that receive state money for student financial aid. The California State University and University of California systems are backing the legislation after adopting similar consent standards this year.

The bill also requires colleges and universities to adopt “victim-centered” sexual-assault response policies and implement comprehensive programs to prevent assault.

The bill passed the state Assembly on Monday by a 52-16 vote.

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