Coalition Working to Approve R-90 and Ensure All Washington Youth Have the Information They Need to Live Healthy Lives
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Today, the Safe & Healthy Youth Washington Coalition condemned the efforts by sex education opponents, amid a pandemic, in placing the new widely popular comprehensive sex education law on the November ballot. While the public is focused on two public health crises — COVID-19 and systemic racism — the opposition to sex education is putting Washington state at risk as they try to force their fringe beliefs on Washingtonians. Senate Bill 5395, now law, requires public school districts to teach age-appropriate, inclusive sexual health education to K-12 students and excuses students at their parent or guardian’s request. Opponents of the law submitted enough signatures to the Secretary of State’s office, qualifying the referendum for the November ballot to strip students of vital health information—the first statewide ballot measure on sex education in the country.
Statement from Courtney Normand, Washington State Director for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai‘i:
“We stand together with the overwhelming majority of Washington state parents who support sex education. We will proudly fight to approve R-90 because all young people have the right to the information and skills they need to protect their health, understand healthy relationships—including consent and sexual assault prevention—and to see their identities and experiences reflected in any curriculum with all their complexity and diversity.”
SB 5395 passed the state legislature and was signed into law by Governor Inslee in March. The bill was sponsored by champion youth advocates, Sen. Claire Wilson and Rep. Monica Stonier, with strong support from Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal.
Even before SB 5395 passed, Washington state law required that sex education programs be age-appropriate when offered. Opt-out provisions were strengthened under SB 5395 to specify that all parents’ requests must be honored. SB 5395 brings much-needed updates and expansions to Washington's existing sex education laws. School districts are no longer permitted to avoid offering instruction, so a young person's access to information is no longer dependent upon their zip code.
The new law requires that K-3 instruction must be social-emotional learning. The curricula and programs established by the new law will be implemented in 2021-22 for grades 6-12 and 2022-23 for grades K-5. School districts are still required to work with parents, guardians, and their communities to select culturally appropriate and age-appropriate materials.
“The deceitful tactics and misinformation spread by the opponents, amid a pandemic where Washington state residents were among some of the hardest hit, is a new low. If there is anything the global pandemic has shown us, it is that access to honest, accurate information and preventive health care means everything, and is key to living healthy lives,” said Normand.
Disability Rights Washington
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai‘i
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington
Cedar River Clinics
ACLU of Washington
Gender Justice League
Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood
Northwest Abortion Access Fund
Northwest Progressive Institute
King County Sexual Assault Resource Center
Sexual Violence Law Center
Justice for Girls Coalition of Washington State
Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands
Odyssey Youth Movement
Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Washington Student Association
Win Win Action