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Requiring Sex Education Classes is "Constitutionally Allowed"

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

"Whether affirmative consent or abstinence sex education, the mandatory requirement by Michigan State University or other public institutions is unconstitutional."

Author: Sergei Kelley

On Oct. 4, Vice President for Office of Civil Rights Rob Kent gave a constitutional defense of mandated Michigan State University sex education courses. Kent came to the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) General Assembly meeting to present the updates within MSU’s Office of Civil Rights.

When prompted with this inquiry:

Morning Watch Reporter: “What Federal Law gives MSU the power to make it mandatory?”

Kent: “There’s no Federal Law, that umm, well I guess we’d sort of have to get into Federalism I suppose. MSU is all-…. there’s nothing preventing MSU under Federal Law from requiring students to take education classes, there’s nothing under State law either, as a matter of fact it’s given to the state institutions, Constitutionally allowing them to determine what their education program is going to be and MSU has found that this safety programming is an important part of its education programming and therefore it’s made it mandatory.”

According to Mr. Kent, Michigan State University can make any of its education programs mandatory. However, MSU holds no compulsory policy for regular academic classes.

Under current Michigan law, as reported by the U.S. News & World News Best States article, “Should Michigan Sex Ed Require 'Yes Means Yes' Curriculum?” public schools must include abstinence instruction in sex education and any student can opt out for religious reasons.

There is current legislation to require affirmative consent sex education in public schools. House Bill 5336 would require affirmative consent, relationship violence, and sexual assault topics to be included in public school sex education. This is a close replication of Hertel’s Michigan Senate Bill.

Whether affirmative consent or abstinence sex education, the mandatory requirement by Michigan State University or other public institutions is unconstitutional. If it is federally funded, by U.S. taxpayers, students cannot be mandated and are protected by the Constitution and can opt out for religious reasons.

Many universities across the country mandate sex education programs to their students. Many of these programs are based through a university’s Title IX branch. This branch at Michigan State University is within the Office of Institutional Equity that includes Office of Civil Rights.

Title IX was a 1972 Education amendment to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) statutes. Its overall obligation is to prevent sex discrimination in any education programs or activities that receive federal funding assistance, as indicated within the DOE Office of Civil Rights website. This policy extends from the classroom to the athletic field.

Author: Sergei Kelley

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