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Lansing-area lawmakers propose 'yes means yes' student sex law

Civilized people in Michigan surely agree that when it comes to asking someone for sex, no means no. But should that term be changed to “yes means yes”?

That is the viewpoint of two Greater Lansing legislators who plan to introduce legislation that would change the legal definition of consent among college students. State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. of Meridian Township and Rep. Tom Cochran of Mason say that Michigan’s high schools need to have “a more robust conversation” about educating their students about what consent sounds like.

Their bill would call sex with someone who does not say “yes” beforehand potential sexual assault -- even if the other person did not say “no” either. And the bill would clarify that anyone who consents to sex has the right to change their mind at any time.

As the Lansing State Journal explains, consent would have to be a clear affirmative, and given while sober; apparent consent while the other person is intoxicated might still lead to criminal charges, if this bill becomes law.

As mentioned above, this bill appears to be primarily targeted at college students. At a press conference announcing the impending bill, a detective with the East Lansing Police Department said that “many college students just don’t know what consent looks like.” A recent investigation by the U.S. Department of Education said that “a sexually hostile environment existed” at Michigan State University.

If passed, it will be interesting to see this bill will impact college students, who may become more likely to be accused of sexual assault than other residents. Even without this bill, sexual assault charges are very serious, and a student accused of rape or similar crimes needs to speak to a defense attorney as soon as possible.

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