A public college that is part of the University System of Georgia has attracted media attention for its policy that says physically disabled students are unable to consent to having sex.
A sexual misconduct policy currently in effect at Armstrong State University says, “…persons under the age of 16 and persons who have a physical and/or mental impairment are unable to give consent.”
This section of the policy seemingly refers to students who are physically or mentally disabled, as opposed to students who are impaired by alcohol, because intoxication is addressed in a separate clause right above it.
“Individuals who consent to sex must be able to fully understand what they are doing,” the previous clause of the policy reads. “For example, alcohol or other drugs may impair a person’s ability to give valid consent if the person cannot comprehend the who, what, where, when, why, or how of a sexual interaction.”
This policy has been in effect at Armstrong since September, but was recently brought to light by Samantha Harris at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, who tweeted out a screenshot of a section of the policy on Wednesday.
Does @Armstrong_U really think the physically disabled can't consent to sex? @AsheSchow @robbysoave @Popehat pic.twitter.com/3qyW8z5Uid— Samantha Harris (@SamatFIRE) July 15, 2015
Students who are physically handicapped are certainly capable of consenting to sex. The policy also doesn’t specify which types of mental impairment negate consent.
When asked to clarify the policy, Armstrong’s Title IX coordinator Deidra Dennie told the Washington Examiner that the policy on the website is not up to date, and that the university is currently in the process of revising its definition of consent for the upcoming school year.
Although the wording of this particular policy may simply be an error, it is another example of the complicated debate at colleges and universities across the country over what qualifies as sexual assault.