CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Members of the Nevada Youth Legislature told state lawmakers Tuesday that their peers could be deterred from committing crimes if public high schools teach students about sexual consent and the ramifications of breaking certain laws.
Students on the nationally acclaimed student panel drafted legislation that would require public high schools to, at some point during the four-year curricula, include the legal definition of sexual consent and how to comply with it.
Senate Bill 108 would also mandate public instruction to cover sexual assault, domestic violence, sending or receiving sexual images, driving under the influence, stalking and property destruction.
Henderson-area student Olivia Yamamoto proposed the bill, saying people under age 18 frequently violate those laws and would benefit from information about law, punishment and recognizing sexual consent.
“It’s not a sex-ed bill — I don’t ask that we teach sexuality or even contraception, but that we arm our children with the knowledge and the empathy to understand what consent and conversely assault is,” Yamamoto said. “Nevada can lead the nation in protecting our young people.”
Reno student Spencer Lang said the panel worked with state education officials to ensure the bill would give school districts the discretion to decide how much class time to spend on the proposed criminal law lessons and at what grade level to introduce it.
“We’re trying not to complicate things for anyone,” Lang said.
Sen. Scott Hammond, a government and Spanish teacher, said he agrees the bill seeks practical life lessons worthy of the classroom. But the Las Vegas Republican argued the scheme of prescribing exact teaching provisions has already exacerbated an overly rigid learning environment for both teachers and students.
“Next year we’re going to have another story about something really important that ought to be taught,” Hammond said. “Are they going to mandate more curriculum that teachers then have to go to?”
Hammond said teachers already have the option to cover crime, which is how it should remain.
Sen. Becky Harris, R-Las Vegas, suggested the material would be useful after advanced placement exams take place, typically weeks before the school year ends.
“It would be nice to have a curriculum for AP teachers to continue instruction that’s meaningful” during that free time, Harris said.
Yamamoto agreed, speaking from experience.
“After the exam there is little-to-no instruction going on and so it is a common notion that students check out after the AP exam,” she said. “I think that, with the importance and (student) interest in this bill and this curriculum, that they will actually really be involved in it after the AP exam.”
The Senate Education Committee did not take immediate action on the bill.