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Bill Would Take Sex Ed Beyond No-Means-No

Dusty Rhodes
NPR Illinois

A measure gaining support in the Illinois legislature would have schools teach students the concept of consent in sexual relationships.


Beyond “no-means-no,” this law would require any sex ed course offered in grades 6 through 12 to include a comprehensive definition of consent. For example: Consent to one activity doesn't constitute consent to another activity. Consent to sexual activity in the past doesn’t equate to consent in the future. A person's manner of dress or lack of active resistance don't imply consent. Consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Brigid Leahy, with Planned Parenthood, says such knowledge can help relieve the stigma of sexual assault, thereby allowing students to report unwanted sexual contact.


"Teaching about consent tells you: I have the right to have my own bodily autonomy. And somebody else should respect that. It's not my fault when somebody violates my person," she says.


Illinois schools are not required to teach sex education, but for those that do, the state requires medically accurate information; an emphasis on abstinence and contraception; and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.


After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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