New law requires health teachers to educate students about consent

Raven Easterly, Fature Editor

  One of Illinois’ new laws amends the sex education curriculum for high school students by including an age-appropriate discussion on consent, and helping students understand what consent is.
When an assault takes place, many times it is with someone the victim already knows.
“It’s important to have it out there where kids are aware, can understand it, so if they come into a situation, no matter what age, where it’s something that they’re not comfortable with, they will know how to set the boundaries,” Jennifer Tomczak, P.E department chair, said.
Consent is not just limited to sexual activity; rather it is permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
“Essentially you’re looking at it as if you can’t go to a movie if it’s R rated and you’re not 17 or you can’t go into certain areas that are blocked off by boundaries, so we’re looking at some of those different aspects as far as the definition of the word,” Christina Florence, health and  sex. ed. teacher said.
Teaching consent is not entirely new, but the new law shows proper guidelines on what needs to be taught to students.
“The general idea of consent has always been around, it hasn’t been formalized into a law until recently, and I think it’s a phenomenal thing that the law has passed because it makes it very clear on what needs to be covered,” Tomczak said.
Teaching consent to students and having them interact with others allows them to realize what they find acceptable in their own life, and to see the differences others have.
“I think it’s important for them as they grow to simply know what it is and understanding that what is okay for you, may be different than someone else,” Florence said.
They begin teaching consent to high schoolers because of how differently individuals learn. Students in high school are more capable of processing the information than in middle or elementary school.
“Students simply may not know what consent really is, and the implications could be devastating towards someone’s future if they’re not sure.” Bridget Taylor, P.E teacher, said.
During the current sex. ed. class, guest speakers from Guardian Angels come in with their stories of sexual assault and show why it is important to have consent.
“If they listen to the lessons and obviously follow the law, it’s going to help with any plausible issues in the future and help those who may not be good at communicating.” Taylor said. “They’re going to be better at voicing what they feel comfortable with.”