Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Roger Harnack
Owner & Publisher 

Sex education bill

 

March 12, 2020



Engrossed Senate Bill 5395, the sex education bill mandating “inclusive” curriculum beginning in kindergarten has been hotly contested this legislative session in Olympia. But with the House and Senate both backing the bill, it’s likely to become an issue locally.

Under the bill sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson, an openly lesbian Democrat from Federal Way, all public schools statewide would be required to start teaching a curriculum that includes gay, lesbian, transgender and other “protected classes” sexual education.

The measure requires schools to teach sex ed to students at least once in kindergarten through third-grade, once in fourth- and fifth-grade, twice in sixth- through eighth-grade and twice in ninth- through 12th-grade. The measure assumes parental permission to teach the “inclusive” subject matter, but does allow parents to write a letter to their local district opting their children out.

If Gov. Jay Inslee signs the bill into law, school districts statewide have until Sept. 1, 2021, to incorporate the “inclusive” sex ed into curriculum.

That means local youth as young as five years old could be learning about non-traditional sex in our schools. It also means local school boards, and thereby local parents, will virtually be stripped of the right to decide what their children should know about intimate relationships.

When implemented, state education officials in Olympia would decide what is “age appropriate” and “medically accurate” in the new sex ed curriculum, which also includes required instruction on practicing safe sex. The measure does not take into account the different culture, lifestyle and heritage of rural communities, nor does it take into account religious objections.

Western Washington Democrats pushed the measure through both the state House and Senate, without a single supporting vote from Republicans. Indeed, only three lawmakers from Eastern Washington — Sen. Andrew Billig and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli, all Spokane Democrats — favored the measure. The rest of the Spokane and Spokane Valley delegation opposed the bill.

Whitman County’s legislative delegation — Sen. Mark Schoesler and Reps. Mary Dye and Joe Schmick, all Republicans — opposed the measure.

Wilson attempted to force inclusive sex ed on students statewide last year. But strong parental opposition blocked the measure. That same opposition was present in Olympia this year, but it fell on deaf ears.

Conservative and rural groups have taken up the mantle and are ready to upend the measure. They are gearing up to collect signatures to put a referendum on the ballot next fall to repeal the measure before it can take effect, if it’s signed by Gov. Inslee as expected.

In the meantime, residents and parents should be contacting the Governor’s Office and urging Gov. Inslee to veto the measure. Inslee’s contact page is online at http://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/contact/send-gov-inslee-e-messaage.

Local parents and school boards need to retain control of what sex-related information is made available to students as young as kindergarten.

Roger Harnack

Owner

 

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