Bill requiring all public schools to offer sex education K-12 moves to state house
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Senate Bill 5395 passed the Washington State Senate on Wednesday with a 28-21 vote, after which one senator said he wished he could have saved up his other no votes so that he could have twenty for this one.
To read the bill click here to go the legislature’s website.
What the bill says broadly, is that it would require all public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education that meets requirements laid out by the Office of Public Instruction.
That education would have to be evidence-based, medically and scientifically accurate, inclusive to all protected classes and also age appropriate.
It would teach abstinence and also other methods of contraception, in addition to the need to knows about preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
Understanding what healthy relationships are and teaching that they should not be violence, coerced or based on intimidation would also be taught.
In public comment, Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said that the bill’s requirement to teach ways of identifying and responding to attitudes or behavior that leads to sexual violence would hopefully help decrease the current 1/3 of all high school girls that experience sexual assault, and 1/6 of all boys that do across the state.
Opponents of the bill say that it would limit parental power and local school boards.
“What works in Seattle isn’t going to work in Deer Park,” said LeAnna Benn, director of Teen-Aid Inc, a Spokane based organization that teaches sex risk avoidance, “we need diversity in there, we need choice and we need local control.”
She also worries by approaching sexual education in a way that includes all protected classes, that it may in fact be detrimental to heterosexual individuals. She says you also have to balance that against age.
“When you start looking at gender and choice of gender and we are going to down to Kindergarten, before they have even reached puberty, that is going to be a stumbling block for a lot of communities,” she said.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho is fully behind the bill.
“We are very supportive of inclusive curriculum for LGBT students as well as lessons that emphasize healthy relationships and consent,” said Paul Dillon, a spokesman for the organization.
He said they have worked with students from around the region that have come in troubled by a feeling that what they are being taught doesn’t apply from them.
The standards set out by the Office of Public Instruction according to the bill, would have to follow the Washington State Health and Physical Education K-12 learning standards and the 2005 guidelines of sexual health information and disease prevention. More information on that can be found by clicking here.
Speaking with Spokane Public Schools Spokesman Brian Coddington, he says that based on the current bill, their curriculum wouldn’t likely need to be changed at all, and that they meet requirements.
Parents would keep their ability to opt their students out as well as look over the curriculum once it is set.
School districts would be able to adopt curriculum developed by the Office of Public Instruction, or create their own as long as it met standards.
The bill will now move onto the State House.
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