Washington state senate passes universal, all-grade sex education bill

Washington state senate passes universal, all-grade sex education bill

A proposal for universal, all-grade sex education has passed the state Senate after extensive debate.

The proposal, which passed on a 28-21 vote Wednesday, would require schools across the state to teach sex education classes and to include in the curriculum information about affirmative consent and how to recognize abusive relationships.

SB 5395 would require public schools to provide age-appropriate, evidence-based sexual health education curricula that follows the Washington state health and physical education K-12 learning standards set by the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Auburn, one of the bill’s sponsors, said for the youngest students ciricculum would include things like the difference between a ‘good touch’ and a ‘bad touch,’ and respect.

Parents would have the option to opt out. The bills states, “Parents or legal guardians who wish to have their children excused from any planned instruction in comprehensive sexual health education may do so upon filing a written request with the school district board of directors or, or the principal of the school their child attends.”

Democratic lawmakers said the bill would foster awareness of healthy relationships. Minority Republicans opposed to the measure have put forth more than a dozen proposed amendments, including proposals to block the classes from being taught to the youngest students.

According to the Seattle PI, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said the sex ed vote was “an historic day in a bad way,” adding “What they (constituents) don’t like is people jamming Seattle values down their throats and that is what they are doing here.”

He later said, “I wish I could save some of my other no votes for other bills, and put them all together, and have 20 here. That’s how strongly I feel about this.”

None of Padden’s Republican colleagues supported the bill, either, but it passed with strong democratic support. It now heads to the house, which also has a democratic majority.