By Catherine Ahl, Education Issue Chair, LWV of Washington
Referendum 90 will be on the November ballot to approve or reject ESSB 5395, the Comprehensive Sexual Health Education bill, passed by the legislature and signed by the governor in March of this year. The LWVWA recommends a vote to approve ESSB 5395.
The bill requires that comprehensive sexual health education be provided twice in grades 6-8 and 9-12, starting with the 2021-22 school year, and once in K-3 and grades 4-5, starting with the 2022-23 school year. The bill states that K-3 instruction must be in social-emotional learning. This could include stranger danger, good touch/bad touch, and using your words instead of your hands.
ESSB 5395 ensures that all students statewide receive age-appropriate information that is medically and scientifically accurate—parents have the right to opt their student out of the class. No child should be left in the dark without the tools and information they need to be safe and healthy. Sexual health education is effective at driving down rates of sexual abuse, unintended pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections in young people. Making sure every student across our state has access to high-quality sexual health education is an equity issue.
The LWVWA has joined the Safe and Healthy Youth Washington campaign, so please visit its website and donate or volunteer. Please write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, using any of the information in this article. If you have questions or concerns, contact Catherine Ahl at cahl [at] lwvwa.org or 360-697-7924.