The public has a chance to weigh in for the next few days on a proposal to require that all public schools teach a state-mandated “comprehensive sexual health education” curriculum, starting in kindergarten.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is conducting the survey. It’s available for the public to take at www.bit.ly/WA-sex-ed-survey. The deadline to take the survey is Sept. 22.
It’s fair to say that what the state proposes schools teach on the subject goes beyond what many taxpayers and parents would expect and want.
There is room for consensus on this issue, but as is, the state’s proposal doesn’t unite us as it could.
I think most people would support sex-ed that teaches students, as they prepare to enter puberty, about human development of both genders, about pregnancy and how to prevent it, and about sexually transmitted diseases and how to protect yourself.
That fits with our state’s long-standing mandate that all public school students be taught about AIDS and its prevention.
I think many people would support education on consent that is age-appropriate and emphasizing respect for self and others, at the earliest grades. Protection of our youth from exploitation and abuse is crucial.
That kind of sex-ed is common sense and I think would have widespread support.
However, the kind of “comprehensive” sex-ed being proposed in Washington and other states goes beyond that, into ideological territory that loses broad support — and even creates hostility toward public education.
As proposed in a bill that nearly passed the Legislature this year (SB 5395), and that is reportedly a priority of new House leadership in 2020, “comprehensive” sexual health education would begin at the youngest grades and would be required to affirmatively include education in sexuality and gender theory. (For more information on the bills and perspectives on what might be a healthier approach to sex-ed, search Facebook for “Teen-Aid Washington” or “Parent’s Rights in Education of SWWA.”)
Parents — at least those who know about it — could request that their children be removed from class, but the bill as written would not require schools to inform parents about their opportunity to review curriculum and exempt their students from participating, nor would it require schools to allow parents to sit in on classes to hear for themselves what their children and their peers are being told.
It would not include protections for teachers who are uncomfortable teaching, as supposed scientific fact, ideas about gender fluidity that do not have widespread public approval, let alone medical certainty based on long-term studies of their impacts.
It would not include funding for training of teachers or outreach to parents.
OSPI, which is conducting the survey, was an original proponent of SB 5395. In what might be a sign of the agency’s outlook on the matter, question two in the survey asks for the respondent’s gender — and provides eight different options.
It’s a shame that an educational opportunity that could and should unify us — ensuring that our children are knowledgeable in how they will create the next generation — should become something divisive.
The opportunity to help children understand how life begins, and how to be safe and wise as they protect their bodies and hearts going into adulthood, is instead expanded far beyond common-sense consensus, ranging into the realm of indoctrination in the latest sexuality and gender theory as mandates in every public school, starting in kindergarten.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Consider taking the survey and reaching out to talk with your state lawmakers.
Together, we can be unified in focusing on a few universal, time-tested truths as we help our kids learn how to be healthy young men and women.
Brian Mittge is a product of Washington’s public schools and is the parent of three students in the public school system. He can be reached at email@example.com.