This morning I read an opinion piece in the New York Times titled How to Be a Man in the Age of Trump by Peggy Ornstein. In the piece Ms. Ornstein advocates the importance of teaching young people about consent. Talking to young people about consent and respect not only allows for healthier sexual relationships and better friendships but it also may keep young men off the sexual offender registry. As a criminal defense lawyer with a large portion of my practice involving people accused of sex offenses, I am dismayed by how few of my clients have received this basic education. For example, many young men that I encounter actually think that having sex with a person who is very drunk or even unconscious is not rape and many of their victims think the same thing. Discussions about consent should be part of basic sex education at school and at home. In light of the revelations about Mr. Trump I am bracing for the next young man to be marched into my office by his distraught parents, charged with grabbing a young woman by her vagina and bewildered that his conduct qualifies as a crime. It would be reasonable for him to think this in light of Mr. Trump’s defenders insisting that such conduct is not a sexual assault. (Free legal advice: it is.)
I previously wrote a piece recently for young people and their caregivers about sex laws and consent titled “The New Sex Ed: What Young People Need to Know About Sex Laws” that will hopefully be helpful to start such conversations. There is also a handy infographic.