As affirmative consent policies are adopted at higher ed institutions across the state (University of Minnesota system, Mankato, St. Thomas, etc. etc), it is critical that we improve health curriculum in our K-12 classrooms. When sex education leaves students without knowledge about what healthy relationships look like, rape culture cannot be undone at the college level. Not only is consent education essential to the formation of personal relationships, it is an issue of public health and workforce readiness.
Consent Education Minnesota is a youth and young-adult led grassroots legislative initiative to pass a state statute requiring K-12 affirmative consent education. We believe legislation is one tool of many to decrease the prevalence of sexual violence. We believe consent education is one small part of the large fight for comprehensive, gender-inclusive sex education and we look forward to supporting others in this work as well. We believe in building alongside students, parents and educators and providing support so they can take on this work in their own communities. While our long-term goal is statewide legislation, we believe short-term success can look like individual districts, schools, and teachers adopting K-12 consent education in their respective capacities.
Currently, the State of Minnesota does not require students receive education on the topics of consent, coercion, or sexual assault. This is largely due to the fact health curriculum is set by local school districts. Through our research, we have yet to find a school district in Minnesota that requires affirmative consent education.
Nationally, K-12 consent education is entering the public consciousness.
• 22 states and the District of Columbia require sex education include information on how to avoid coerced sex. Minnesota is not one of these states
• Most recently, California passed a requirement for K-12 consent education
• Between 2016-17, 5 states (Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania ) introduced legislation to require consent education. These bills did not pass and are still pending
Minnesota has made significant progress on consent education in the last 5 years.
• In 2011, the Department of Education commissioned a study of the perspectives of health teachers related to the topic of sex education. In this study, the most commonly cited barrier to comprehensive sex education was school- or district-level policies and many teachers expressed a desire for a state law to require comprehensive sex education
• In 2014, students at the University of Minnesota organized to pass an affirmative consent policy, the strongest and most comprehensive consent policy in the Big 10 at the time
• In 2015 and 2016, Rep. Erin Murphy authored legislation to require all Minnesota institutions require an affirmative consent standard for higher education institutions
• In 2018, all seven Minnesota State University student senates voted in support of a system-wide affirmative consent policy. The policy is expected to be implemented by Fall 2018
• In 2018, our organization began a comprehensive review of Minnesota’s sexual education curriculum and whether schools require education of affirmative consent
Contributions will fund further research, grassroots organizing, and lobbying efforts, including:
• A report detailing the state of sexual education curriculum in the state, school board members stance on the issue, and survey results from health teachers across Minnesota
• Open data resources and legislative toolkits for students, families, and community members to educate themselves on their district’s policies and practices
• 2-3 part-time lobbyists for the 2018 legislative session
• 2-3 part-time grassroots organizers to active students, families, and educators
Our philosophy is that this work should be youth-led with partnership from all-stakeholders, including parents, educators, community members, and sexual violence prevention professionals. Our initiative strives to be inclusive of gender, ability, race and class. Our core team includes survivors, sex educators, and activists with more than 10 combined years of experience in sexual assault prevention and advocacy.
We want to acknowledge the decades of work done before us and the work being done alongside of us. There are many teachers in the state who teach comprehensive sex education, including consent education. There are many organizations that are currently advancing this work in the form of training educators, classroom support, and developing curriculum, among other tactics. We support this work and look forward to being a legislative partner to the organizations advancing this work.
Contributions are not tax-deductible at this time. We are in the process of identifying a fiscal sponsor to provide tax-deductible status in the future.
Direct donation: consentedmn.org/donate
- Ayse Ozturk
- Jean Heyer
- Aurora Vautrin
- Laura Dahl