Capitol Alert

Kevin de León wants to bring fight against sexual violence to California high schools

After successfully passing a bill last year aimed at combating sexual assault at California colleges, Senate leader Kevin de León wants to bring the fight against sexual violence to the state’s high schools.

He has just introduced a bill that would require high schools that teach health classes to add curriculum about sexual assault and violence.

“The culture of misogyny, the culture of sexual assault, starts way before young men enter a college campus” de León, a Los Angeles Democrat, told The Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau. “This is a measure that would go into the high schools and deal with this issue.”

The Senate leader is jointly carrying Senate Bill 695 with women’s caucus chair Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.

The state does not require high schools to offer health classes and does not collect precise data on how many local districts have made the class a requirement. De León’s staff said 87 percent of California’s 1,507 high schools require graduates to take either a health class or physical education, or both. But because the number of schools that specifically require health was not immediately evident, it is unclear how many schools would have to offer the curriculum under the bill.

California’s current guidelines for high school health curriculum include teaching students to “recognize potentially harmful or abusive relationships, including dangerous dating situations,” “describe California laws regarding bullying, sexual violence, and sexual harassment,” and “use effective communication skills for preventing and reporting sexual assault and molestation.”

De León said he does not want the Legislature to dictate the exact curriculum under his bill but hopes it will create a voice to counter what he described as a misogynistic force in pop culture.

“I’d like to decrease the amount of misogyny that’s taking place,” de León said.

“We’ve created a culture that’s become so normalized, that’s so anti-young woman. It has gotten to the point where young men are going to have to stand up.... They can’t remain voiceless on this issue, and it’s going to have to start in high school.”

Call Laurel Rosenhall, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1083. Follow her on Twitter @LaurelRosenhall.