State Representative Sue Errington Authors Legislation to Provide Age-Appropriate Sexual Health Education

State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie).State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie).

By Troi Watts, Press Secretary—

INDIANAPOLIS State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) has introduced House Bill (HB) 1047, which would require state-accredited schools to provide age-appropriate, medically- and scientifically-accurate sexual health education to their students, for consideration in the 2022 Legislative Session.

Errington, a former school teacher and former Public Policy Director for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, offered a similar bill last session, but it was not granted a hearing in the House Committee on Education.

Errington remains determined to help students understand their sexual health as a handful of Indiana counties continue to remain above the national average for sexual transmitted disease cases and the state as a whole ranks 4th highest in the nation for the number of reported rapes among high school girls.

“We have a responsibility to provide our students with the resources they need in order to make smart, informed decisions,” Errington said.

“Comprehensive sexual health education would teach our students how to stay healthy and protect themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Learning the importance of contraception, consent and other sexual health factors early will prevent issues like sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies down the road.”

HB 1047 also outlines 11 points of criteria that the instruction must cover, including understanding consent.

Indiana Code currently lacks a definition of consent within its rape statute. As it stands, a sexual assault is only defined as an “act of rape” (IC 31-9-2-.09) if it is committed by threat of or use of force; results in serious bodily injury; is facilitated by a drug or controlled substance; or committed against a victim who is unable to consent due to mental disability.

Today, the House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code passed House Bill 1079, co-authored by Errington, which expands the definition of rape in Indiana Code, with a vote of 9-1.

“Everyone needs to understand consent, not just girls, not just boys,” Errington said. “By teaching our students to understand consent and practice healthy communications skills, we will empower them to build safe, positive relationships.

“These two bills work in tandem. While HB 1079 responds to the issue of prosecuting sexual assaults, HB 1047 works to prevent sexual assaults. Both of these bills are necessary to ensuring the safety and health of our students. I encourage my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join me in supporting these vital pieces of legislation.”

HB 1079 will now move to the House floor for consideration by the full chamber.

HB 1047 has been assigned to the House Committee on Education, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.