Meet our Youth PowHer Microgrant project recipient: Lauren Atkins. She is working on passing state legislation that would teach students about healthy relationships and consent education in schools. Her project is related to Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality.
She lives in Norman, Oklahoma. As of right now, she is a senior at Norman High School but plans to attend The University of Oklahoma in the fall for political science. Growing up, she would have never guessed that she would become a political junkie.
During May of last year, she was sexually assaulted by one of her classmates. The day after when she was explaining to him what he did to her, he seemed to have no idea that what he did was a violation of her body. Though she went through with everything she thought she was supposed to do such as getting a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) exam, filing a police report, reliving it by retelling it, etc., she felt as if it were for nothing when the District Attorney decided not to continue on with the case. The saddest part was when she realized that this happens to so many women every day. The point of publicly sharing her story was to shine a light on the unfairness of rape and what comes along with it. No one should have to go through that pain.
When Stacey Wright of Yes All Daughters contacted her about my story, she had a feeling big things were to come. Stacey told her about a bill she previously introduced that had been shot down and thought that if they teamed up and changed up the language that they could get it somewhere. After changing up the language, the bill is now concerning the implementation of consent and healthy relationship classes in middle and high schools. After releasing it to the media and gaining supporters, all of the hard work put forward proved to be worth it. As of February 26th, 2018, HB2734 (Lauren’s Law) unanimously made it through the Common Education committee and now has a Senate author and ten bi-partisan co-authors from the House and Senate. (See the bill here)
Her hopes for the implementation of Lauren’s Law is to educate people on what’s right and wrong so no one else has to go through what she did. The reason she was raped was that her assailant didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. It could have been prevented if he was educated on what he is and isn’t allowed to do to regarding someone else’s body. No one deserves to go through trauma, especially because of someone else’s ignorance. In Lauren’s words, “Education is powerful and deserves to be spread like wildfire!”
Thank you for your dedication to making your community brighter and we look forward to updates about your project to share with our members.
Come and meet Lauren at our International Women’s Day Program scheduled for March 10, 2018 from 2-4 p.m. at the Raindrop Turkish House Oklahoma City. You can find tickets here.