'The more education that is out on it, the better we're off' House bill looks to add sexual harassment training for IN lawmakers

An amendment to Indiana House Bill 1309 is looking to educate state lawmakers.

Posted: Jan. 29, 2018 10:33 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Cases of sexual misconduct from public figures to congress continue to reach national headlines. 

"It's kind of sickening that it's as big as it is, like the issue is," said Aryona Branch, ISU student.

The headlines continue to spark conversation on sexual misconduct, especially among college students.

"Seeing like our president, seeing public figures, people who are actually in power, being able to just take advantage of women and take advantage of people who obviously don't have as much power or as much wealth as them," said Emari Washington, student, "It's a shame and it needs to stop."

An amendment to Indiana House Bill 1309 is looking to educate state lawmakers. The proposal would require House and Senate members to undergo sexual harassment prevention training for at least an hour every year. 

Prior to the amendment, which has been approved by the House, the bill only dealt with training for certain elected county offices. 

Representative Cherrish Pryor, the amendment author, said in a release, "Right now, we require staff to take sexual harassment training, and I do not see why lawmakers should be excluded from that requirement."

"There have been a number of stories about sexual harassment across a wide spectrum, ranging from government to Hollywood, and I would very much like to see us not get those kinds of headlines in Indiana," she added.

Representative Pryor went on to say that public officials are meant to demonstrate the highest quality of character, and that this training sends a clear message that harassment of any kind will not be tolerated in the Indiana General Assembly.

For students, Branch and Washington, they believe the change is necessary and one that needs to happen for more than just public officials.

"It's something that's there for everybody," Washington said, "Everyone should at least take some type of course, regardless of what kind of education level."

"It could help them better help people that are sexually harassed, or abused, or have been, things like that," Branch said, "So the more education that is out on it, the better we're off."

If passed, anti-harassment videos from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) could be used for Indiana's training. NCSL is in the process of producing a video for use across the country.

As of Monday, HB 1309 passed its third reading in the House of Representatives.

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