UPDATE: Lauren’s consent law has passed the Oklahoma House Floor
babe shared Lauren Atkins’ story in November
UPDATE 3/7/18: 'Lauren's Law' passed the Oklahoma House Floor on Wednesday evening with a total of 54 votes. To be considered a law in the state it still has to go to through the Senate. Sigh the petition to support Lauren's Law here.
Lauren told babe she started crying when she heard the final vote. "I am so happy that enough people realized how important this education is," she said, "I'm ready to take on the Senate."
UPDATE 2/27/18: 'Lauren's Law' was read to the House Education Committee on Monday, February 26, and passed following a unanimous vote. It it now one step closer to becoming a law in Oklahoma.
1/18/18: A bill that would require students to be educated on consent was passed in the education committee hearing on Monday in the state of Oklahoma. It was co-written by 17-year-old Lauren Atkins — babe shared her story in November of last year.
In May 2017, Lauren woke up to a male friend having sex with her while she was incapacitated from drinking too much. The next day, Lauren confronted the guy she says sexually assaulted her. He denied it, so she started taking screenshots. One of his text messages says he didn't know you couldn't give consent under the influence of alcohol.
Lauren's story reached a national audience, but it really hit close to home for many in Norman, Oklahoma
Back in 2014, the small suburb outside Oklahoma City made national news when hundreds of students held a protest at Norman High after multiple girls came forward about their rape and said they were ignored by the administration.
Everyone I spoke to when I visited Norman remembers this protest and the changes it made — the biggest being that schools must appoint a victim's advocate — but were shocked with how few of their peers actually know what legal consent was. In Oklahoma, the agreement to sex must be “affirmative, unambiguous and voluntary” and specifically points out that it needs to relate to “a specific sexual activity during a sexual encounter.”
Lauren's Law, or House Bill 2743, would require teaching staff and administrators to take a training program on consent and healthy relationships to then educate their students
In addition, the bill would also require the program's curriculum to be medically accurate and must be approved by the Department of Health.
Stacey Wright, founder of Yes All Daughters, an advocacy group for victims of sexual violence and bullying, approached Lauren after reading her story on babe. The two, along with Oklahoma lawmaker and former high school teacher, Representative Jacob Rosecrants, have spent months around Stacey's kitchen table writing it.
Both Lauren and Stacey believe introducing more consent laws is crucial to educate young people. "Consent needs to be the first priority," Stacey told babe, referring to another bill she tried to pass in 2016 with a focus on healthy relationships, and not specifically consent education.
A petition set up to gain signatures and raise awareness for the new bill states that: "These programs will teach students about consent and how to recognize and prevent relationship violence, including physical and emotional relationship abuse. It will also address relationship communication skills, emotional health, and accountability." Sign the petition here.
Lauren told babe that sharing her story made her want to continue to make change on a bigger scale. "The amount of people who confided in me opened my eyes to how many people are uneducated about consent," she said.
"Though consent seems like common knowledge, it isn’t, and needs to be."