Controversial sex ed bill passed by Washington state lawmakers
A controversial sex education bill was passed by the Washington State Legislature Saturday afternoon.
Despite a passionate fight from Republicans — who at one point added over 200 amendments in the hopes of keeping the bill requiring comprehensive sex health education from coming up for a vote — the legislation cleared its final hurdle and passed in the Senate.
“The hard work that we put into this bill — in both the House and Senate — is well worth it because it will improve safety for children statewide,” said the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Claire Wilson. “We must ensure that our kids have the tools and knowledge they need to recognize and resist inappropriate behavior.
The bill mandates “comprehensive sexual health education” for grades K through 12. In middle school and especially in high school, the more mature topics of reproduction, STDs, and sexual assault are addressed. These lessons build on concepts taught in previous grades, such as physiology.
In elementary school, sex-ed topics will be limited to protecting the body in cases of physical assault or if somebody is inappropriately touching.
No student will be required to participate in any of these classes, with the bill providing families the ability to opt their children out.
The bill came with a handful of tweaks and amendments. Lawmakers greatly strengthened the ability of parents to opt out, removed requirements for curriculum to be evidence-based, and delayed its implementation.
It was deemed necessary because of increases in STDs and sexual assault among young people.
“We have got to reduce sexual assaults and sexually transmitted infections, and we know through education we can do that,” State Superintendent Chris Reykdal recently told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show.
The measure will next head to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk to be signed into law.