Sexual relationships between high school students and their teachers are inappropriate, but they are legal in Michigan if the student is 18 or older. A proposed bill would make such relationships a criminal sexual offense, regardless of the student’s age. The bill is the type of government interference in the lives of Michigan adults that wastes taxpayer time and money and should be voted down immediately.

Michigan’s age of consent is 16. But if the partner is in a position of power, which includes teachers, the age is raised to 18 years old. The current law protects minors from advances from teachers, while also allowing adults to make their own decisions.

This proposed bill violates the individual rights of Michigan adults. The government should in no way be involved in the sexual encounters between consenting adults. Relationships between an adult teacher and a minor student must be investigated by the school district because of the disruption to the school environment they cause. But relationships between adult teachers and adult students should not be considered a criminal sexual offense.

There should undoubtedly be systems to deal with such issues, but these should originate from the school and not the state’s legal system. Teachers should not have sex with their students, regardless of their age. But if a teacher enters into a consensual sexual relationship with a student over age 18, the issue should be handled within the school district, and not be punished as a criminal offense.

In 2003, Texas adopted a law similar to Michigan’s proposed bill. Under the law a 25-year-old female teacher was arrested in 2006 for having sex with an 18-year-old male student. Both consented to the act, but because the male was a student, the teacher faced charges but ultimately was not indicted by the jury.

Bringing forward charges of criminal sexual assault is an extremely serious matter and to equate this to a consensual, sexual encounter between two adults is absurd. Additionally, prosecuting these types of cases is costly for the state. Charging someone with sexual misconduct in a consenting relationship is an inappropriate use of the state’s money and resources and something Michigan must avoid.

With a staggering 11 percent unemployment rate in Michigan, it is shameful that Congress is wasting time discussing this bill. While many conservative legislators campaigned on the premise of concern for Michigan’s economy, these types of bills do nothing but cost the state money it does not have. If Republican Gov. Rick Snyder wants to affirm his commitment to prioritizing Michigan’s economy, he needs to veto this invasive bill.

Teachers should not have sex with their students, but a sexual assault charge for a consensual sexual relationship between adults is unnecessary. The current law is sufficient, and this bill should not be signed into law.

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