Ref. 90, Sex, Politics, and Religion, Part I
Let's pay attention, now, when there is a chance to make a difference. This coming Wednesday, June 10, a small, but politically organized group of Washington State Republicans will submit enough signatures to put sex on the November 3 Washington State General Election ballot. There is nothing quite like sex to get people's attention, rile them up, and get them to the polls. Sex and children? Even better for the purpose. Prepare for a ramp up of a misinformation campaign that is already in high gear.
Referendum 90 seeks to repeal a Washington State law passed last March that requires public schools to provide "comprehensive sexual health education" to each student. The whole law, ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 5395, is just six pages long. Click the link and read, and/or scroll down and read the extracted definition of "comprehensive sexual health education" below. We need to read the law, present the facts, and push back against the flood of misinformation. Most who vote to repeal in November will not read the law. They will only read the hysterical objections to teaching comprehensive sexual health education.
Requiring comprehensive sexual health education in the public schools (as defined in the law) is in the best interests of society and of the greater good. Yes, parents should discuss these issues with their children in an age-appropriate manner. The law encourages such discussion. It contains a requirement to notify parents and provide access to the content to be covered appropriate to grade level. (p.4, line 30) If this law results in parents having these discussions with their children, discussions that otherwise are often put off until too late, then the law will have the proper effect. If accurate information is not provided, children will, often to their detriment, acquire misinformation that is readily available from their friends or, worse, through the internet, either by accident or intentional search.
For parents who are still uncomfortable:
1) Parents may excuse their child from this curriculum. (p.4, line 15)
2) Approved curricula are to offered by the office of the superintendent of public instruction and available to the public. (p.3, line 18) Go to this website, https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/resources-subject-area/sexual-health-education/new-legislation-senate-bill-5395-comprehensive-sexual-health-education for a detailed discussion of the what the curricula contain.
3) There is a mechanism for a school to choose and have approved a different curriculum. (p.4, line 3) However, while the curriculum "must include information about abstinence and other methods of preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases" (p.1, line 17)..."Abstinence may not be taught to the exclusion of other materials and instruction on contraceptives and disease prevention." (p.2, line 1)
The law bends over backward to provide interested parents options for involvement in their children's education. For the disinterested or the uncomfortable the law mandates that children not be left in the dark. Familiarize yourself with the law. Talk about its importance for the good of society. Don't let misinformation and fear-mongering win.
Keep to the high ground,
The law, passed as ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 5395 was passed by the State Senate on March 7, 27 Ayes 21 Nays and the House on March 4, 56 Ayes to 40 Nays. By clicking the blue link you can read the whole bill in its legal detail. Below is the section from the bill that defines what comprehensive sexual health education is meant to do and to cover. (I have removed the line numbering for ease of reading.)
Comprehensive sexual health education for students in kindergarten through grade three must be instruction in social-emotional learning that is consistent with learning standards and benchmarks adopted by the office of the superintendent of public instruction under RCW 28A.300.478. 37 Comprehensive sexual health education for students in grades four through twelve must include information about: (i) The physiological, psychological, and sociological developmental processes experienced by an individual; (ii) 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; (iii) Health care and prevention resources; (iv) The development of meaningful relationships and avoidance of exploitative relationships; (v) Understanding the influences of family, peers, community, and the media throughout life on healthy sexual relationships; and (vi) 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; (c) "Medically and scientifically accurate" means information that is verified or supported by research in compliance with scientific methods, is published in peer-reviewed journals, where appropriate, and is recognized as accurate and objective by professional organizations and agencies with expertise in the field of sexual health including but not limited to the American college of obstetricians and gynecologists, the Washington state department of health, and the federal centers for disease control and prevention;...
This is the way Ref. 90 will appear on the ballot in November (if they, as expected, drum up enough signatures):
The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5395 concerning comprehensive sexual health education.
This bill would require school districts to adopt or develop, consistent with state standards, comprehensive age-appropriate sexual health education, as defined, for all students, and excuse students if their parents request.
Should this measure be: ___Approved ___Rejected
Ballot Measure Summary
The legislature enacted a law requiring all school districts to provide comprehensive sexual health education, as defined, beginning in 2021-22 for grades 6-12 and in 2022-23 for grades K-5. Students must be excused from this program if parents so request. The curriculum must satisfy state standards. The content and frequency of providing comprehensive sexual health education would vary by grade level and must include affirmative consent and bystander training. K-3 instruction must be social-emotional learning.