Taxpayer-funded officials in Oregon’s second largest city are now requiring teachers to inform police or the state’s Department of Human Services when they find out that teen students have had consensual sex with other teen students.
Teachers in the Salem-Keizer school district face fines and can even lose their jobs if they fail to blow the whistle on teen students who are voluntarily having sex with each other, reports the Statesman Journal, the main newspaper in Salem.
The draconian requirements also require teachers in the district to report teen students who might have had consensual sex.
A comically literal interpretation of an Oregon state law appears to be the Salem-Keizer school district’s rationale for the mandatory teen-sex reporting standards.
The state law — ORS 163.315 — makes it illegal for anyone who is under 18 years of age to consent to a sex act.
According to the Statesman Journal, school district officials provided these examples as instances which teachers must report suspected teen sexual activity to government officials:
- Your own 17-year-old son lets you know that he got his 16-year-old girlfriend pregnant.
- You hear some students talking about students hooking up at a party over the weekend.
- A 15-year-old female student asks about birth control because she is having sex with her boyfriend.
- A 14-year-old boy approaches seeks advice because his parents kicked him out of the house when they found out he engaged in sex acts with his gay partner.
In all of these cases, and in many others, all teachers in the Salem-Keizer school district are required to file reports with either the Department of Human Services or some law enforcement agency if they have “reasonable cause” to believe a teenager might be suffering abuse.
It’s not clear if the school district has made any attempt to define the nebulous legal term “reasonable cause.”
Teachers who aren’t sure if there is “reasonable cause” to believe abuse has occurred have an incentive to report teen sex because a finding that teachers withheld information can result in fines or job loss.
“It’s criminal not to report,” Salem-Keizer Public Schools spokeswoman Lillian Govus told the Statesman Journal. “People’s careers are at stake here.”
When a teacher reports a teen high school student for having consensual sex, the state Department of Human Services creates a file. In addition to the creation of a file, a social worker or a police officer could come to the public school to talk to the reported student about all about the sex he or she has been accused of having.
Teen students who have been reported for sex do not appear to have recourse concerning their privacy. Thus, information and gossip about their sex lives will remain in government files — which may or may not be effectively stored.
Salem-Keizer school district superintendent Christy Perry said students shouldn’t worry about asking sex questions in health class or about speaking to a teacher, counselor or administrator about sex issues.
Perry’s goal in creating the sex reporting requirements is to create a safe space for teens, she told the local newspaper.
If teenagers in the Salem-Keizer school district are similar to the rest of America’s teenagers, then they lose their virginity at age 17 on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Also, over 40 percent of America’s high school students admit to having had sex at least once before graduation, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Thus, taken literally, Oregon’s sexual consent law makes criminals of 40 to 50 percent of the teens in the state.
Some students, parents and teachers in the Salem-Keizer district say they are frustrated by the reporting requirements.
One student, Kimberly Schott, has created a Change.org petition to change the Salem-Keizer policy.
“The teachers of the Salem-Keizer school district are being forced to report everything to DHS involving any sexual activity with students and even their own children,” the petition says.
Over 1,100 people have signed the petition as of Nov. 3.
The Statesman Journal notes that it could not find one other school district in Oregon that requires teachers to alert cops or state social workers when high school students may be having sex .