WEST CHESTER – April 23, 2019 – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that he is introducing legislation to require consent education in the school curriculum.
Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the curriculum would include the definition of consent, the importance of receiving consent in daily interactions, and the consequences to individuals for acting without receiving consent from others involved.
Dinniman also emphasized that the importance and value of consent should be imparted to students broader and early on – as a life skill – rather than strictly through curriculum or conversations on health or sexuality.
“All too often, any discussion of consent in our schools comes too little, too late,” he said. “Meanwhile, consent is a skill young people need to successfully navigate adulthood. Beginning in elementary school, we should lay the foundation that consent is a fundamental value in human relationships through age-appropriate instruction. For example, in first or second grade, that could include the importance of asking someone for permission before playing with their toy or video game.”
Dinniman said under his bill, each school district would decide how and through what part of curriculum consent should be taught.
“We ask for things every day and don’t realize it, but very few states require schools to address consent at all,” he said. “When we focus on requiring consent education in middle/high school alone and in terms of relationships that involve intimate behavior, it may not be as effective as teaching our students these fundamental skills early in their education.”
Dinniman first announced his plans for a consent education bill early this month when he joined staff and volunteers at the Crime Victims Center of Chester County to officially mark April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. The theme for Sexual Assault Awareness is “I Ask.”
Dinniman also signed on as a co-sponsor of Senator Judy Schwank’s legislation to require schools to establish specific policies regarding dating violence, including reporting procedures for students, parents, legal guardians, or third parties; disciplinary procedures and penalties for students perpetrating dating violence against other students; and information regarding the Protection from Abuse law.
In recognition of his efforts, Dinniman was recently honored with the Guardian of Victims’ Rights Award by Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania and the Crime Victims Center of Chester County. The award is presented to individuals who have served as advocates and ambassadors for crime victims across the state, working to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes.