OLYMPIA… On the final day of the 2020 legislative session, all 21 members of the Senate Republican Caucus signed a letter sent to Gov. Jay Inslee asking him to veto Senate Bill 5395, which would require comprehensive sexual health education to be taught in all grades levels in all Washington public schools.
Senators who signed the letter include Sens. Randi Becker, John Braun, Sharon Brown, Doug Ericksen, Phil Fortunato, Brad Hawkins, Jeff Holy, Jim Honeyford, Curtis King, Ron Muzzall, Steve O’Ban, Mike Padden, Ann Rivers, Mark Schoesler, Tim Sheldon, Shelly Short, Keith Wagoner, Maureen Walsh, Judy Warnick, Lynda Wilson and Hans Zeiger. The letter can be viewed here. It reads:
To the Honorable Jay Inslee,
While your attention has rightfully been directed at responding to emerging public health and safety needs in our state, the people of Washington are insisting that you listen regarding another issue of great importance to them.
As you may be aware, thousands of parents, educators and students from around the state gathered at our Capitol yesterday to voice their strong opposition to the passage of Senate Bill 5395, which will require “comprehensive” sexual health education to be taught in all grade levels. Similar protests took place in other cities across Washington.
Most school districts in our state are already offering sex education that has been determined, at a local level, to be age-appropriate. As some districts have made clear, it is completely inconsistent to submit their sex-education curricula for scrutiny by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction – as SB 5395 requires – when that is not required for any other content area. In addition, there is legitimate concern that this unfunded mandate from state government will detract from valuable instruction time in other critical learning areas, exacerbating the persistent opportunity gap that legislators have worked so hard to address in our K-12 education system.
While there may be some disagreement about how this policy will be implemented in the 295 school districts across Washington, especially as it concerns the definition of “age-appropriate” curricula, one thing is clear: Parents have not agreed to yield their rights regarding the content of this sensitive subject matter and how it is conveyed to their school-age children. They do not feel it is appropriate for the Legislature, OSPI or special-interest groups to interfere with the principle of local control that is part of the bedrock of our public-school system.
As public servants, it is our responsibility to listen to the people we represent. By the tens of thousands, they have made their wishes known on this particular subject. For that reason we strongly request that you also listen to the people and veto Senate Bill 5395.