A 32 to 4 vote on February 21st sent Senate Bill 135 to the house for consideration in an effort to turn the bill into a law. If the house approves the bill, relationships between high school students and teachers will be illegal if the student is under 21 years of age. Michigan law currently states that the age of consent is 16, except between a teachers and students, which is now is illegal until the student turns 18.
With the current law, student-teacher relationships continue to be a problem because many students are 18, or in some cases 19 when they graduate. The purpose of the new law would be to protect those students who are above the age of consent, but still attending high school.
“Why even place an age on it?” asked Moteaka Coody, a 19 year old SC4 student. “Those types of relationships should be outlawed entirely.”
That is the case in some states such as Illinois, Connecticut and North Carolina, where sexual relations between a teacher and a student are completely illegal despite the student‘s age.
The bill recently passed by the Michigan Senate states that if a teacher seeks out or engages in a sexual relationship with a student who is under 21 years of age, that teacher is subject to a felony charge consisting of a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The bill also states that at if a student is receiving special education services and is under 26 years of age while involved with a teacher, he or she who is in the position of authority will face a misdemeanor charge of no more than $500 and/or 2 years in prison.
However, this bill only applies to high school students and teachers. Moteaka comments, “The law should be extended to include college students also.”
This is not the first attempt that the State of Michigan has made to revise this law. A similar bill, which was passed through the senate in 2010, never made it through the House of Representatives. But since the problem of these relationships continues to grow, the likelihood is high that this bill will be passed.