SEATTLE – You may have noticed, sex ed is on the ballot and whether school districts should be required to teach it for all grade levels.
It’s Referendum 90. And we want to help eliminate any confusion about what your vote actually means.
If you vote “approved”, you want to approve a bill that’s already been passed by lawmakers in Olympia and signed by Governor Jay Inslee. It mandates every public school district in the state teach sexual health education to all students.
If you vote “reject”, you want to reject that bill. You do not want to require the lessons to be taught, giving more control to local districts to decide what’s best for their students.
The reject crowd is asking the question, why would you teach sex ed to young learners: kindergarten through third grade?
Supporters of the bill say it’s age-appropriate, teaching social-emotional learning about anti-bullying. Keeping your hands to yourself. Controlling your emotions and finding a safe adult to talk to if you feel uncomfortable or violated.
The law would require kids to receive sex health education six times over their 13 years in public school.
Districts would approve the curriculum from a state-approved list.
This is really important: parents could opt-out.
The debate over mandating sex ed has become a flashpoint between the two candidates wanting to be the state’s top educator.
Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction
Chris Reykdal said opponents are pushing a “misinformation campaign.”
“29 other states do something like this. We always have to remember why,” Reykdal said. “A third of our girls and a sixth of our boys graduate from high school and tell us they’ve been a victim a sexual assault or sexual abuse or some form of unwanted sexual touch, so it’s very much a public health crisis.”
Challenger Maia Espinoza said, this law is so wrong for Washington, it’s the reason she decided to get in this race.
“I did not think this was age-appropriate as the law said it should be,” Espinoza said. “And to start from a young age… kindergarten through 12th grade and for this to be the focus of our education for me it was just the last straw.”
Just to be clear, most school districts in this state already teach some sexual health education.
The Seattle Times cited a survey suggesting 93% of districts teach lessons in at least one grade.
It’s now up to the voters to decide if all schools should be required to do so.