How R-90 is interpreted on ballot

Referendum asks voters about sex education legislation

PORT ANGELES — Senate Bill 5395, which would go into effect if Referendum 90 is approved Nov. 3, requires school districts to adopt a sex education program, or “comprehensive sexual health education,” for all grades by the 2022-2023 school year, according to the bill.

“Comprehensive sexual health education is recurring, age-appropriate instruction in human development and reproduction,” according to the bill, which was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

It does not include a definition of age-appropriate instruction.

Course materials approved by the state superintendent’s office would be accessible to parents. Parents could opt out of the curriculum, which must be approved by the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

A “no” vote on Referendum 90 would block the bill.

If voters approve R-90, sex education programs statewide must be adopted for students in grades 6-12 by the 2021-2022 school year. Grades K-5 would be added by the 2022-2023 school year. Students in K-5 would receive instruction at least once and in grades 6-12 at least twice.

The program for grades K-3 must meet benchmarks established by the state superintendent’s office.

Sex education for grades 4-12 “must include information about the physiological, psychological, and sociological developmental processes experienced by an individual; the development of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills to communicate, respectfully and effectively, to reduce health risks, and choose healthy behaviors and relationships that are based on mutual respect and affection, and are free from violence, coercion, and intimidation.”

It would include instruction on abstinence and other methods of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The curriculum must address “affirmative consent,” described as a “conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity as a requirement before sexual activity.”

A synopsis of SB 5395 is at tinyurl.com/PDN-SexEdReport.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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