A bill to ensure New Mexico children are taught affirmative consent – that affirmative consent is necessary before and during sexual activity – during their mandatory health class passed the House Chamber 49-12. HB 43, Affirmative Consent Policy in the Schools, will require the health class taught in either eighth grade or high school in New Mexico public and charter schools to include a discussion of affirmative consent. House Rep. Liz Thomson, a Democrat from Albuquerque, and one of the bill’s sponsors, said while presenting the bill that “yes means yes,” as a shorthand way of describing what the bill, if enacted, would require the health class to teach. There is also a section of the bill that would require institutions of higher education to include trauma-informed policies that meet an affirmative consent standard. Thomson said she’s heard from many adults, both men and women, who have said they wished they had heard this information years ago.
The House Education Committee passed the Affirmative Consent bill 8-2 on Wednesday. The bill, HB 43, sponsored by state Rep. Liz Thomson, D-Albuquerque, would, if enacted, require New Mexico public schools to provide educational training on what affirmative consent means when engaging in sexual activity. The schools, which already require a health credit, Thomson said during the committee hearing, would incorporate the education during the students’ required health class. The educational training would require students to learn such things as that an individual who is passed out, unable to speak or who says “no” is not providing affirmative consent to sexual activity. Jess Clark, director of prevention for New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, said during the hearing that he taught affirmative consent for 10 years across northern New Mexico schools and that hearing a teacher explain affirmative consent in the classroom can be the “first move to access support” for a sexual assault survivor.
A memorial that is part of a longer strategy to introduce a bill in next year’s legislature for paid family and medical leave passed 7-2 largely along party lines in the House Labor, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. House Memorial 3, sponsored by state House Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, asks for a $160,000 appropriation to establish a task force comprised of 16 stakeholders to study the effects of paid family and medical leave in the state. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions would oversee the task force. If a paid family medical leave bill is introduced and passed and signed in 2023, the implementation of the law would fall under the Department of Workforce Solutions, Tracy McDaniel, policy advocate for Southwest Women’s Law Center, told NM Political Report. Creating paid family medical leave in the state is an equity issue because women of color often live in multi-generational households, she said.