Washington High School: Excellence Everyday

The Missouri House has passed a bill requiring high school sex education to include information about sexual harassment and assault.

The proposal, approved Tuesday in an 85-59 vote, would mandate that information about consent, sexual violence and sexual harassment be covered in schools teaching sex education.

Lessons also would address how to resist unwanted sexual advances.

Washington School District Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said sexual assault education is everyone’s responsibility, but mainly the parent’s job to talk to their children about sex.

“Ultimately, that includes signs of harassment, how to prevent assault and sex education,” VanLeer told The Missourian.

“Our policy is abstinence based in that abstinence is the only 100 percent safe measure to protect against pregnancy and STDs,” she said. “I don’t think this change in law — should it become law — would require further adherence.”

The Washington School District’s policy states:

Students shall be taught not to make unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances or otherwise exploit another person. Students shall be taught to resist unwanted sexual advances and other negative peer pressure.

The state mandate, if approved, would only affect schools that already teach sex education. Individual school districts in Missouri can decide whether to teach sex education.

Proponents say this will help protect students from assault. One lawmaker says it doesn’t go far enough because it wouldn’t reach all students in the state.

The bill now heads to the Senate.