Andrew Little supports compulsory consent education

Labour leader Andrew Little has joined the chorus calling for sexual consent to be a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

His calls follow a protest of hundreds at Parliament on Monday, where protesters spoke out against rape culture and called for compulsory consent education in high schools.

"I think it should happen in school,  that's where young people are doing a lot of their growing up, it's when they're being confronted with those choices and decisions," Mr Little said.

"The school is the best place for that education to happen. It's definitely something we'll have a close look at.

"I think we've got to do better when it comes to sex education," he said.

 "It's not just about the biology it is about the social interaction if you like."

But Minister for Women Paula Bennett says schools are already under some obligation to teach consent as part of their sexual education programmes.

"Consent is taught in schools so it goes through to year 10 and last year the schools asked for better guidelines on how that should be taught and more consistency and that was provided to them"

The Ministry of Education's guidelines do say schools should address "consent and coercion" - however it's not compulsory - each school sets its own sexual health curriculum in conjunction with the parents of their students.

Ms Bennett says involving parents in the conversation about how to deliver sex education is paramount because without parental support any education won't be effective.

"I think we can always improve and we can do better," she said. "But this is not a government solution alone."

And she backs the young women who turned up at Parliament yesterday.

"The fact that they were here and their voices were being heard I reckon that does more for societal change than anything actually them setting the agenda in what's acceptable and what's not and I completely support them in that."

Mr Little says the message about consent is clearly not getting through.

"No has to mean no and men have to understand that when a young woman says no it means no.

"You've got to understand too that any person who is under the influence is most likely not able to make a reasoned choice and they should not see that as somehow consent."