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New law requires schools with sex education to include consent

Posted: 8:50 PM, Apr 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-23 23:12:41-04
Oklahoma Capitol building

TULSA -- Governor Stitt signed Senate bill 926 into law, requiring schools with sex education to include information about consent.

"The fact that we haven’t been teaching our kids they have the right to say no, is kind of scary," said Sydney Friedrichs, Education Coordinator at DVIS (Domestic Violence Intervention Services).

According to Oklahoma statute, sex education isn't required in schools. However, schools are required to provide HIV/AIDS prevention courses. In both cases, districts must notify parents in writing, so they have option whether or not their child participates in the class.

"These topics consume their daily lives and yet no one’s having these conversations with them," said Friedrichs.

Senate bill 926, signed into law by Governor Stitt, requires schools with sex education to include information on consent, with the same option for parents.

"Being a freshman in the legislature, I was surprised to discover that consent wasn’t already a part of sex education in classrooms today," said Rep. Merleyn Bell, who co-authored the bill.

Sydney Friedrichs with DVIS works with Tulsa Public Schools, teaching students about consent, among other topics. For younger students starting at age 10, it's mostly body awareness.

"I don’t want a hug right now, or I don’t want you to touch me there," said Friedrichs.

The older students get, the more they dive into heavier topics.

"No means no, consent is reversible, just because you can consent to one thing doesn’t mean you consent to everything," said Friedrichs.

The authors and co-authors of the bill, which is an all female team, hope this new law will stress that saying yes, or no, is an important part of any relationship.

"You don’t owe anybody an explanation of why you don’t want to do x, y, and z," said Friedrichs.

Two other bills were aimed at improving sex education. House bill 1018 updates Oklahoma's HIV/AIDS curriculum, and that passed the House but still has to pass the Senate.

Senate bill 50 would have required school districts to provide annual communication training between students and parents, covering topics like sex, health, and body image. That bill never made it out of committee.

This is the last week for bills to be heard.

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