ATLANTA — The national dialogue about sexual assault and harassment is making its way into Georgia schools.
Against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, Georgia students are hearing more about consent in sex education classes.
A new Georgia law requires districts to educate kindergarten through ninth-grade students about sexual abuse and prevention, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .
The Atlanta-based publisher of an abstinence-focused curriculum used by more than 30 Georgia school districts plans to introduce an expanded lesson with more specifics about what does and does not constitute sexual consent.
In Clayton County Public Schools, just south of Atlanta, officials decided several weeks ago that consent was something they needed to talk about in schools, said health and physical education coordinator Paul Scott.
"It's more relevant to the students, I think, because it's in the news. They hear those things, and they are having those conversations," he said.
Georgia gives school districts leeway in how to teach sex education, the Atlanta newspaper reported. Like most states, Georgia's learning standards do not specifically use the word "consent."
Some advocates want schools to teach more about consent, saying it's a critical concept that schools uniquely are positioned to address.
"These kids are confused," said Jaime Winfree, a parent of two Gwinnett County students and director of Gwinnett Citizens for Comprehensive Sex Education. "I have to sit down and have Brett Kavanaugh conversations with my 11-year-old. They are going to see this stuff, so do we let them interpret it on their own? Or do we help them understand."
Others are receptive to consent being taught in an abstinence-centered curriculum but are wary of the way it may be framed and of politics pushing into the classroom.
"This whole area is just rife for indoctrination on one side or another, which is one reason why the bulk of this ought to be done in families rather than in school," said Jane Robbins, an Atlanta attorney and senior fellow at the conservative American Principles Project. "I think it depends on how you are approaching it."