Gov. Wolf introduces legislation as part of “It’s On Us PA” campaign
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Last year, Pennsylvania launched a statewide campaign to address sexual assault in schools and on college campuses.
Today, the campaign, “It’s On Us PA,” got a little stronger.
Joined by legislators, advocates and students, Gov. Tom Wolf introduced a package of six bills that will continue to combat sexual assault.
“This legislation is the result of students, parents, advocates, education leaders, and people across the commonwealth working together to improve reporting and response standards for sexual assault,” Gov. Wolf said. “We are making progress to combat sexual violence, and these proposals will ensure that all Pennsylvania students have the information, resources, and supports they need.”
According to the Governor’s Office of Communications release, the six bills would:
- Expand the scope, authority, and capacity of the Office for Safe Schools within the Department of Education to support both K-12 and postsecondary institutions, as well as monitor compliance with existing federal and state requirements related to sexual violence prevention and response.
- Publish an annual report card on sexual violence and harassment in K-12 and postsecondary institutions using existing data reported to the Department and/or other publicly reported data.
- Create a consolidated, comprehensive anti-violence and anti-harassment policy for K-12 schools that aligns requirements related to bullying, hazing, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, and other issues.
- Require postsecondary institutions adopt affirmative consent standards for responding to allegations of sexual violence, and expand K-12 health education standards to explicitly address areas of consent and healthy relationships in middle and high school.
- Require that postsecondary institutions offer online, anonymous reporting options for students as part of their required reporting and response systems under federal and state law.
- Establish amnesty policies protecting students who report sexual assault to postsecondary institutions from being disciplined for other policy violations, such as drug and alcohol use.
Gov. Wolf encourages members of both the House and Senate to support the measures — some of them weighed in:
Democratic Senator Judy Schwank
“Students at colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania are starting a new year, and that’s why it’s important we reaffirm our pledge to combat sexual violence through the It’s On Us campaign. Sexual violence is never OK and we must work together as individuals and communities to end it.”
Republican Representative Karen Boback
“Pennsylvania’s students deserve to learn in spaces free from violence. These initiatives will ensure our educational institutions have the necessary tools to enforce state and federal guidelines relating to sexual violence prevention and response”
Democratic Representative Madeleine Dean
“Sadly, most instances of sexual violence go unreported to campus officials or to the police. Providing amnesty for incidental infractions-like drinking-to those who come forward will help survivors and bystanders give voice to this scourge. Ensuring a safe environment is a vital part of providing a good education.”