Advocates aiming to help sexual assault survivors at the Utah Capitol Monday cheered some proposals and slammed others on the second week of the legislative session.
Here’s a rundown of bills related to sexual assault:
Campus sexual assault: Students who report rape and sexual assault or harassment to their universities should be able to tell school employees without risking confidentiality. That’s the focus of a bill from Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, that still is being drafted. Currently, campus victim advocates, like professors and everyone other employee who is not a counselor or medical worker, are required to refer reports of sexual assault to school administrators.
Sex-ed: One bill seeks to allow schools to teach comprehensive sex-ed. The measure is from Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, who says conversations about boundaries and healthy sexual relationships should be happening in Utah’s schools. The Republican-controlled Legislature has routinely defeated efforts to offer comprehensive sex-ed. UCASA says the change is needed to help students understand how to respect each other when it comes to sex and relationships.
Child-abuse prevention: A law requiring schools to offer lessons to students on respecting boundaries—and what to do if adults coerce them into sexual activity or touch them inappropriately—could be undone under a measure from Rep. Kevin Stratton, R-Orem. The bill seeks to make the program available only to students whose parents opt in, instead of everyone. Advocates Monday called it a step backward for Utah families.
Rape kit testing: One Utah lawmakers is joining a national push to mandate testing of all rape kits, which advocates say can identify serial defenders and prevent false convictions. The Legislature is trailing behind several other states, many of which have already passed such a law. But in 2014 it did pay to help law enforcement in Utah go through a backlog of untested rape kits. Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring this year’s bill.