#4ThePeople: What questions do you have about Washington’s Comprehensive Sexual Health Education curriculum?
OLYMPIA, Wash – One of the most controversial education discussions of the last year in Washington will be put before the voters in the November election. ABC News reports it’s the first time a decision like this on sex education will be decided by voters.
A vote to approve Referendum 90 would enact Senate Bill 5395, which requires public schools to provide comprehensive sex ed curriculum; parents can ask for their students to be excused. Right now in Washington, districts can choose if they want to include sex ed in their curriculum. The bill says the curriculum must be age-appropriate instruction on human development and reproduction.
The bill passed the legislature last spring, but implementation was put on hold as opponents began to gather signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.
PAST COVERAGE: Washington lawmakers pass comprehensive sex ed bill
The bill prompted heated arguments across the state, as some opponents believed it would include explicit sex instruction for kids as young as kindergarten. In the bill, however, it says grades kindergarten through third grade would focus on “social-emotional learning” with benchmarks decided by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
According to the bill, students in grades four through twelve will focus on “The physiological, psychological, and sociological developmental processes experienced by an individual; The development of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills to communicate, respectfully and effectively, to reduce health risks, and choose healthy behaviors and relationships that are based on mutual respect and affection, and are free from violence, coercion, and intimidation; Health care and prevention resources; The development of meaningful relationships and avoidance of exploitative relationships; Understanding the influences of family, peers, community, and the media throughout life on healthy sexual relationships; and Affirmative consent and recognizing and responding safely and effectively when violence, or a risk of violence, is or may be present with strategies that include bystander training.”
Arguments for the referendum include raising awareness for kids about consent and dating violence, and also overall prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
Arguments against center around a belief that sex ed should be taught at home and also that this leads to the early sexualizing of kids.
Signatures to get the measure on the November ballot broke state records, with 266,000 people signing the petition.
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