Washington State Youth Will Soon Have Reliable Access to Age-Appropriate, Inclusive, and Medically Accurate Sexual Health Education
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Today, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH), NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Gender Justice League, Surge Reproductive Justice, Northwest Abortion Access Fund, The Justice for Girls Coalition of Washington State, and ACLU of Washington praised the passage of SB 5395 in a vote of 56-40-0-2. This legislation will now need a Senate vote of concurrence before heading to Governor Inslee’s desk for signature. This bill requires public school districts to teach age-appropriate, inclusive sexual health education to K-12 students. The bill is sponsored by reproductive health champions Sen. Claire Wilson and Rep. Monica Stonier, with strong support from Laurie Jinkins, Speaker of the House.
Throughout the course of the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 legislative sessions, reproductive health champions in both the House and Senate moved this progressive legislation through committee hearings, floor votes, and finally, worked through multiple amendments presented late into the night.
“This is a big day for Washington state, becoming one of 30 states to expand sex education—and ensuring one of the strongest programs in the country at that,” said Courtney Normand, Washington State Director for PPVNH. “This has been a long road, and we are thrilled to see this bill pass because Washington youth will get the information, resources, and skills they have asked for and need to protect their health and build their future — without shame or judgment. Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest has met with hundreds of parents, teachers, students, and community members about how important this information is, especially in light of the #MeToo movement. Last night, we made the right choice for Washington’s youth.”
“We commend the leadership and dedication of democratic champions in the House and Senate who have stewarded this bill to this point and made sure the majority of Washingtonians are heard,” said Kirsten Harris-Talley, Interim Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “This bill is an incredible step forward to ensure every student in Washington receives medically accurate, comprehensive information to make informed and responsible decisions about their bodies and futures, regardless of what school district they live in. We will continue to make sure obstructionist techniques from lawmakers, like those demonstrated yesterday in the form of 200 anti-choice amendments in the final hour, have no place in Washington’s legislature.”
“We are pleased that public schools across Washington will be required to provide age-appropriate, medically accurate, and inclusive sexual health education,” said Liezl Tomas Rebugio, ACLU of Washington Field Director. “Access to sex education that helps youth establish healthy behaviors and relationships should not be dependent on a student’s zip code.”
“Today Washington state took a big step forward in providing an antidote to gender-based violence. Age-appropriate, medically accurate education about sex, consent and healthy relationships can protect girls from violence, allowing girls to be knowledgeable and proactive when making decisions about their bodies. We applaud those legislative champions who fought tirelessly to ensure schools consistently play a role in improving health, safety and economic opportunity for Washington state girls,” said Ann Muno, The Justice for Girls Washington State Executive Director.
- A strong majority support requiring schools to offer medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education in public schools - 86% support, 70% strongly support.
- There are high levels of support for programs that focus on encouraging teens to delay sex until they are ready and preparing them for the possible consequences of sex.
In a recent SEICUS poll, 89 percent of likely voters think it is important to have sex education in middle school and 98 percent of voters think it is important to have sexual health education in high school.
Washington State law already requires that sex education programs be age-appropriate when offered. SB 5395 ensures that education and information aren’t dependent on a student’s zip code. And study after study demonstrates that these programs help teens delay sex, improve birth control use, and/or prevent pregnancy. School districts already have a wide range of curricula and programs to choose from, ensuring they can select culturally appropriate and age-appropriate materials for their students. Parents can still choose to opt-out of sex ed.
The curricula will be implemented in the 2022-2023 school year.