Washington Senate passes bill requiring comprehensive sex ed in public schools

( Komo News )

Senators in Washington passed a bill Wednesday that would require every public school in the state to provide comprehensive sexual health education.

Senate Bill 5395 passed 28-21. It now moves on to the House.

According to KATU’s news partner, The Columbian, Democrats backed the bill and argued it is a way to encourage healthy, consensual relationships, deter sexual violence and guard against sexual predators.

The Republicans’ stance is that the bill weakens the authority of parents and school boards and imposes orders from the state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The bill states that parents or legal guardians who wish to have their children excused from any planned sexual health education may do so by filing a written request with the school district board of directors or the principal of the school.

The bill allows school districts to have a say over how and what students are taught. It would bring sex education to students as young as kindergarten and first grade.

While specific curriculum wouldn't be mandated, having some form of sex education in every school would be.

According to Washington state law, sex education must be not only medically accurate but age appropriate.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal says a first-grader wouldn't be learning about pregnancy prevention or STDs.

“In first grade, it’s appropriate to teach how to say no when someone is touching you, how to get help or tell an adult,” Reykdal said.

Under SB 5395, high schoolers would learn more in depth about consent both verbal and physical.