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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 12, 2021 11:50 AM
From: Representative Brian Sims and Rep. Jessica Benham
To: All House members
Subject: Yes Means Yes
According to a survey conducted by planned parenthood, only 14% of middle school students and 21% of high school students learned how to ask for sexual consent at school. Additionally, only 19% of parents report talking to their children about how to give consent. This widespread ignorance has proved itself to have severe, lifelong consequences, particularly for students attending postsecondary education, where 13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. Sexual violence is pervasive on Pennsylvania’s university campuses, and a large reason for this is due to a lack of student knowledge about affirmative consent, which refers to an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.

As part of a package of bills related to Governor Wolf’s “It’s on Us” campaign, in the near future, I will be introducing a bill that would require the adoption of affirmative consent or “Yes Means Yes” standards at all postsecondary institutions in Pennsylvania, and that would increase access to comprehensive, coordinated, and confidential supports and services for victims of sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Further, this bill would establish relationships between postsecondary institutions and local rape crisis centers and ensure that all Pennsylvania students who are survivors of sexual assault or sexual violence know their rights and options when it comes to having access to comprehensive and confidential supports. It would also expand existing state law to create awareness programs at postsecondary institutions to combat dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

Student survivors of sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking need to feel safe coming forward to report what happened to them, and safe when accessing academic, living, and other accommodations that can help them stay in school. My bill would see PA join five other states currently protected with Yes Means Yes, which are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, and New York. The time to act to prevent sexual violence and protect survivors of sexual violence is now, and an important first step in doing so would be to adopt these universal affirmative consent standards for postsecondary institutions.

Introduced as HB1489