Teen sexual assault prevention enforced in California

After Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León established the ‘Yes Means Yes’ affirmative consent law at the college level last year, his natural next step was to expand the concept to California high schools. The democratic leader of the state’s 24th district implemented Senate Bill 695 at the beginning of the year, which states all high schools that require a health course for graduation must teach sexual assault and violence prevention.

“[de León] feels a really strong connection with the issue in terms of assault and women, and feels a strong sense that men need to step up and have this conversation,” de León’s Senior Education Consultant Kimberly Rodriguez said. “It shouldn’t just be a women’s issue. It should really be both genders embracing it.”

The original bill and the high school adaptation that followed were spurred by de León’s concern for his then college-aged daughter. The bill, which was supported by nine organizations, specifies classes must teach different forms of sexual harassment and violence, prevention strategies, ways to report cases and resources for victims.

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Senate Bill 695 was supported by nine organizations. Information provided by Tanya Lieberman of the Assembly Education Committee. (Gina Ender Graphic)

Rodriguez said though not all schools have health courses, the three largest districts in the state, of which Los Angeles Unified is the first, do require the class for graduation. She said long term, de León hopes the bill will establish healthy relationships and help inform students about the law’s existence.

In hopes of beginning this education earlier, Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Hannah-Beth Jackson, who worked alongside de León in implementing bill 695, is working on a new law. Bill 1435 proposes relationship courses begin in middle schools. Rodriguez said she believes this age is not too early to instill respectful and healthy relationships as it will help to prepare students for their interactions in high school, college and beyond.

“You should [know] how to deal with your peers and how to treat each others before you get [to high school],” Rodriguez said.

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From left to right, statistics provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association, U.S. Department of Justice and American Association of University Women.  (Gina Ender Graphic)

Michael Wagner, Monrovia High School’s Health and Wellness teacher for the past 12 years, said he has been teaching these values for as long as he has been an educator. He said he instills in his students that no matter what decisions they make, they have to care about other people.

“I hope [other educators] understand there are certain things that need to be covered, whether you’re uncomfortable with them or not, and we need to leave our private agendas at home and try to teach,” Wagner said.


(Gina Ender Photo)

Wagner said he believes the new bill will be beneficial because it will universalize the curriculum in all high schools.

“It’s not going to be based on the homophobic teacher that doesn’t want to talk about gender issues, or it’s not going to be based on the person who is pushing gay agenda,” he said. “The playing field is going to be level.”

He said while the implementation may take up to a year to reach its full effect, the law will quickly stir important discussions in district offices. He said for years, there were never clear specifications of what to teach beside a basic outline, which left the standards up to teachers’ interpretations. He said the new law should enforce the importance of sharing all information with students regardless of a teacher’s comfort level.

“Math teachers aren’t going to leave something out if they are not good at it, and I think that’s what we’ve seen in health for years,” Wagner said.

Wagner said Monrovia High anticipates eliminating the health requirement in the future as many other schools have done. If that happens, he said he will incorporate the information he teaches in his health class in biology or physical education.

Azusa High School stopped requiring a health course for graduation several years ago. The school’s health clerk, Rose Araiza, said students have turned to her with sexual education questions since then. She said she believes bringing back the class would be beneficial to teach students about abuse sexually, mentally and physically.

“Health would cover all of that,” Araiza said. “It would be an asset to the kids.”


(Gina Ender Photo)

She said she has multiple students confide problems concerning romantic and familial relationships in her and the school psychologist. She said there is a general lack of education about sex among many students, especially regarding abuse and protection.

Brittany VanDeVrugt, a Heritage High School junior, said her experience with health class was minimal. She said she was encouraged by her teachers her freshman year to take a fast track health class which she attended twice a week for a semester and then tested out of the second semester. She said she believes it would be beneficial for students to take more in-depth courses to learn about sexual harassment so they are able to identify it when they see it.

“I would tell [other students] to understand what sexual harassment is and the severity of the situation,” VanDeVrugt said. “People blow it over like it’s nothing, but it’s not always nothing.”

VanDeVrugt said she believes students often overlook the seriousness of sexual assault, but said a classroom setting would change students’ perspectives. She said in her experience, most teachers avoid having conversations about touchy sex education topics.

“It’s kind of like a ‘don’t go there’ region,” she said.

She said if she were to have questions concerning sex education, she would most likely turn to a book before a person. She said most teachers treat the topic as taboo, and she thinks they would want her to be more private about her questions than she would like to be.

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(Gina Ender Photo)

Tahquitz High School senior Mady Martinez said she has been informed of the medical aspects of a sex education in anatomy class and has been told about the social aspects in psychology class, but has not had a formal health class since elementary school.

“I know right from wrong, but I was never taught,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she believes it is necessary for students her age to learn about the emotional aspects of sex education. She said Tahquitz offers assemblies about bullying, and she thinks dedicating a class period every so often for a sexual assault assembly would be beneficial.

“I think if we can cover social abuse, I don’t see why we couldn’t cover sexual abuse.”

“I think if we can cover social abuse, I don’t see why we couldn’t cover sexual abuse,” she said.

Hemet High School senior Saige Darrow said her school gave her a choice between taking health and AVID, a college preparatory class, as a freshman. She said she chose to take AVID, but she wishes she would have taken health because she now feels uninformed.

“I think there’s a lot of things that I could have learned that I did not learn,” Darrow said.

She said as she never received instruction from a health class, she would not feel comfortable approaching a teacher with questions about sex education and would prefer to talk to her parents. She said she talks with her friends about issues such as abuse and harassment occasionally, but it is not a frequent topic.

“It’s not a regular discussion,” Darrow said. “It’s talked about, but not as much as it should be.”

For confidential counseling regarding sexual assault, call 800.656.4673 or visit Rape Abuse and Incest National Network.


UCs restrict First Amendment rights

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression gave the University of California system an award it never wanted to receive, according to an OC Register Article.

The Muzzle Award was bestowed upon the group of colleges, claiming faculty members were told to be hyper politically correct and not use certain phrases. Among other topics, faculty were told not to ask others where they were from in case it was misconstrued as an implication that they did not belong.

“Never in our 25 years of awarding Jefferson Muzzles have we observed such a concentration of anti-speech activity as we saw last year on college campuses across the country,” the center’s director Josh Wheeler said.

While the universities were seeking not to seem racist, sexist, or offensive, their reoccurring prior restraint resulted in criticism.

UC spokesman Steve Montiel said the suggestions were misunderstood and were intended to help faculty work more effectively in regards to diversity.

“There was a knee-jerk reaction by people who thought this was an extreme form of political correctness. It was blown out of proportion,” he said.


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Victim of crime turns to Craigslist

A Los Angeles resident reported his $2,000 customized bicycle stolen on April 9 and was surprised to see it being sold on Craigslist two days later for $250.

The Police Department made arrangements to purchase the bike from the seller, an 18-year-old suspected of selling bicycles with a crew in Wilshire.

The Beverly Press said reports of stolen bikes are frequent for the LAPD, though this case was far easier to solve than others. The bike was put on Craigslist within 12 hours of it being stolen.

The suspected thief claimed he bought the bike and two others on Craigslist to resell, and there is no way for the Police Department to prove he is guilty. The suspect is being charged with receiving stolen property in an ongoing investigation. The two other bikes were sold and have yet to be recovered.

“I tell people when they are victims of a theft, log onto Craigslist,” detective Joe Alves said. “They might see their property.”


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John Kasich- Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Analysis

Ohio governor John Kasich sought support from his party when he spoke at the Republican Party of Milwaukee County Dinner on April 1. The speech highlighted the presidential candidate’s past experience in hopes of appealing to working class voters and establishing his credibility.

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The Economy

Claim 1: “I understand people who are Donald Trump voters. Let me tell you who they are and what they worry about. They worry about the fact that they could lose their job.”

A Washington Post poll found that 42 percent of Donald Trump’s supporters are worried about maintaining their current standard of living. This is far more than supporters of other Republican candidates, verifying Kasich’s claim. However, Kasich was not shown on the chart.


It seems Americans as a whole, not just supporters of a particular candidate, are worried about losing their jobs. According to a Pew Research Center study, 62 percent of Americans fear they will be out of work because of the current state of the U.S. economy.

Claim 2: “The Republicans said they needed to raise taxes. I ran a campaign that said we should have no tax increases.”

Both New York Magazine and The Week reported Republicans wanted to raise taxes on the poor in 2014, the same time Kasich was running for office.

In a campaign advertisement that year, Kasich boasted his previous tax cuts, insinuating he would continue to cut taxes for Ohioans.

“John Kasich took office, made the tough calls, and today Ohio is on a better path. Governor Kasich erased an $8 billion budget shortfall without raising taxes. Over 250,000 private sector jobs have been created and Kasich cut taxes by $3 billion,” the video said, verifying he ran a tax cut focused campaign.

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Claim 3: “I’ve cut taxes as the governor of the state more than any governor in America.”

PolitiFact said their research found Kansas is most often attributed to having the largest tax cuts, not Ohio. The disconnect between Kasich’s claims and Kansas’ credit is in the ratio of the states’ population to taxes. While Ohio’s tax cuts were $4.9 million and Kansas’ are $3.9 million, Ohio’s population was 11.6 million in 2014 and Kansas’ was 2.9 million.

While Ohio did have $1 million more in tax cuts, it also has almost four times as many residents.

Additionally, the site said the Legislature had more to do with Ohio’s tax cut than Kasich himself did. While Kasich did approve the cut, the version the Legislature passed was double Kasich’s original proposal.

“While Ohio’s cuts are significant, when you factor in state population and economic size, Kansas’ reduction may be larger over time,” the article read. “Ohio’s shifting of the tax burden, from individual income tax to taxation on consumption, is what some consider more of a tax shift than a tax cut, and forces local governments to raise taxes in turn.”

According to the site, Kasich made this claim at several other speeches and debates.

Claim 4: “We went from a loss of 350,000 jobs to a gain of over 400,000 jobs with wages growing faster than the national average.” 

Fact Check said this statistic is a favorite of Kasich, as he has mentioned it various times. The site said the number of jobs in Ohio is up 383,500 since Kasich became governor in 2011.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics verified 400,700 private-sector jobs were instilled in the state between the beginning of 2011 and the end of 2015. While Kasich’s 400,000 boast is accurate, the private-sector growth rate nationwide is 11.7 percent and Ohio’s is 9.3.

During Kasich’s time as governor, Ohio’s job growth rate was 7.6 percent and the U.S. as a whole is 9.5 percent. The rate seems to fluctuate often, as Ohio’s was 9.2 percent in January 2011 and 4.8 in December, while the nation’s was 9.1 percent in January and 5 percent in December.

His Resumé

Claim 5: “In 1982, there was only one Republican candidate for the United States congress who defeated an incumbent Democrat, and that person was John Kasich.”

A PolitiFact chart shows that there was only one Democratic incumbent defeated in 1982, the year Kasich won, validating his claim.

kasich yellow

Claim 6: “I was called into the Pentagon after 9/11 by Secretary Rumsfeld…I lead people who were technology experts into the Pentagon to deal with our technology problems.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer verified that Rumsfeld asked Kasich to go to the Pentagon in light of the attacks in 2001.

“Kasich did indeed help with a Pentagon initiative in the months following Sept. 11, 2001, said Donald Rumsfeld…In fact, Rumsfeld told the Enquirer, Kasich’s involvement may have been his own idea,” the article read.

Rumsfeld also said Kasich was the person to initiate technological productivity at that time.

“Kasich suggested bringing in experts from financial and technology companies to help the government prepare for possible cyber attacks from terrorists,” the article attributes to Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld said the Pentagon brought between one and two dozen technology experts to help the government fight terrorists by tracking and limiting financing among terrorist groups after Kasich’s suggestion.

Claim 7: “I was a giant television star at Fox News.”

Kasich sought to boost his credibility by mentioning his past with the conservative network.

Not only was he on the company’s payroll, but the money he earned largely contributed to his over $1 million earnings in 2008. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Kasich’s tax return that year showed Fox paid him $265,000.

Media Matters verified that the candidate is the fourth former Fox employees to run for office after Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. The site said Kasich’s “long career” with the company helped ensure he would become Ohio’s governor, potentially giving him leverage in the current election.

“Fox built up Kasich during his years as an employee and politician, and Kasich has pointed to his time at Fox to enhance his resumé,” the article read.

kasich fox


Claim 8: “I won 86 out of 88 counties.” 

The Columbus Dispatch, Politico and Cleveland.com all reported that when the polls closed, Kasich did in fact win all but two counties in his reelection for governor.


While the race four years prior was one of the state’s closest since the 1970s, the incumbent won the election with ease, losing only Athens and Monroe counties to Democratic opponent Ed FitzGerald.

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SFPD officers send hateful texts

According to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, S.F. officers were found to have sent both racist and homophobic text messages, said an L.A. Times article.

In the past two years, dozens of texts were sent between five officers, which were demeaning to African Americans and the LGBT community. The messages were discovered when the office was sorting through pages from a criminal case.

“This conduct will not be tolerated in the SFPD nor in the POA. Chief Suhr has the full support of the POA to take appropriate disciplinary action that protects the due process rights of the officers,” Martin Halloran, president of the San Francisco Police Officer’s Association said.

Halloran described the officers’ offense as disgraceful, though the officers involved are not being named.

Gascon said he is horrified both operationally and morally, as the investigation of the offense will require time and affect the quality of justice across cases.

This is not the first time the SFPD has had problems with text scandals. A year ago, 14 other officers were identified to have sent similarly discriminatory texts, which resulted in 13 pending criminal cases being dismissed.


Riot Police -- San Francisco, CA

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