SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Taking a crucial step toward ending sexual assault and harassment, state Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, worked to pass legislation through the Illinois House that will require sex education courses to teach students the concept and importance of consent.
“We have to equip young people with the knowledge to set and respect boundaries,” Burke said. “As young men and women go out into the world, they need to know that any sexual activity is only consensual if consent is given freely every time.”
Current Illinois law requires sex education classes to teach students not to make unwanted physical or verbal advances, as well as how to say no to these advances. House Bill 3550 requires instruction to emphasize that a person’s lack of verbal or physical resistance, or their submission to sexual activity because they’ve been pressured by a partner to say yes, does not constitute as consent. The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support and awaits a vote in the Senate.
“Ending sexual harassment in schools and the workplace starts with teaching young people to respect each other, and at its root, consent education is about respect,” said Burke, who co-founded the Illinois House Democratic Women’s Caucus last year to give female legislators, advocates and staffers a voice in the Capitol amidst reports of sexual harassment in Springfield. “I’m proud to have worked with Republicans and Democrats on this measure, which is much needed and long overdue.”