OLYMPIA – Washington public schools would be required to teach comprehensive sexual health education courses that emphasize relations free from violence and coercion as well as the importance of consent, under a proposal being considered by a Senate committee.
Students deserve more than just information about sex, said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way. They need to understand the ramifications of the choices they make.
Parents would have to be informed of the curriculum, which under state law must be age-appropriate, medically and scientifically accurate, and include information about abstinence and other methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Parents could also choose to have their students opt out of the instruction.
But Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, said the comprehensive sex education curriculum in Battle Ground, Washington, is too graphic, with instructions to grade-school children on how to put on a condom, and “promotes” the transsexual lifestyle.
“It’s teaching young children how to have sex,” Kraft said during a hearing by the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.
Not so, countered Amy Miller, who has taught sexual education courses in middle and high schools for 18 years: “We’re not going to teach your child how to have sex.”
Some high school students told the committee they thought their sexual education courses were incomplete and wished they had some of the information in the comprehensive curriculum. Some parents said it should be up to their school boards, and them, what type of course is used locally.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said a comprehensive course that teaches affirmative consent and how to say no to sexual harassment is necessary to reduce what he called a public health crisis of sexual assault. He also denied that a course would lead to students deciding they are transsexual.
“It’s biology. Students are born that way,” he said.
If the bill passes in its current form, the courses would have to be in place by the start of the 2020-21 school year. The committee will vote on whether to send the bill to the full Senate in the coming weeks.
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