Bill aims to address sexual assaults at schools, universities

Legislature

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – One lawmaker wants New Mexico schools and universities to do more when it comes to addressing sexual assault among students. Survivors of sexual assault spoke out in favor of the bill Wednesday saying students need all the resources they can get if something like this happens to them.

House Bill 142 would require public schools as well as public and private universities to make sure policies are in place to address things like sexual assault, dating violence, harassment, or stalking involving students and employees. A task force would then survey college students every two years regarding sexual misconduct. Those responses would be anonymous.


Another part of the bill addresses ‘affirmative consent.’ “Affirmative consent boils down to only yes means yes. In a sexual context, not saying no, not being silent, not saying maybe, not having dated before, none of that gives you permission in a sexual way. The only way that gives you permission is a firm yes,” said Representative Elizabeth Thomson (D-Albuquerque).

The bill would also require students in middle or high school to learn about prevention and awareness of sexual assault. The bill passed the House Education Committee on an 8-to-2 vote. It now heads to the floor for debate. Analysts note that an estimated 10% of kindergarten through 12th-grade students nationwide are victims of sexual assault by a school employee.

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