Brian Mittge: New LGBTQ history mandate is latest legislative overreach


A legislative committee on Wednesday will take public testimony on a bill that would mandate the teaching of “inclusive learning standards and instructional materials in public schools” by requiring the interweaving of LGBTQ history into public school curricula.

According to the official bill analysis, Senate Bill 5462 would require the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with the Washington State LGBTQ Commission, to review and update state learning standards at all grade levels “to include the histories, contributions, and perspectives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.”

These new mandates would come on top of many existing requirements which our schools and students already struggle to meet. 

Barely half of the students in our state meet the most basic standards in English language arts (ELA, or what used to be the “Reading and ’Riting” part of the old-fashioned “three Rs”).

The numbers are worse when it comes to the third R (’Rithmetic), where only 39% of students have mastered their grade-level mathematics. For science we’re looking at just under 43% of students who have learned the very minimum of what they need to know.

This isn’t the scenario into which the Legislature should be stepping as an ultra-school board to impose new standards, especially those that will be divisive in an already divided time. (The fact that legislators do this under the mantle of inclusivity just adds a sadly Orwellian twist.)

This is the latest effort by the Legislature to force their will on what used to be a public school system based on local control.

After years of socially intrusive incursions into the classroom by the one-party government in Olympia, more and more parents are saying goodbye and good riddance to all the baggage that has built up in our once-beloved public schools. 

As public schools around the state lose students and shut down schools (Olympia, for example, is looking at closing three schools), private schools without the political agenda are growing and have long waiting lists for new students. Homeschooling is more popular than ever. 

An analysis by the Associated Press, Big Local News and a Stanford University economist finds that Washington has seen the third-highest growth of private school enrollment in the nation, with a 26% increase since 2019 — more than three times the national average. Homeschooling here jumped by 43%, again well over the national average.

There are many reasons for the change, but whatever the factors nationally, something more extreme is happening in the Evergreen State. As the Washington Legislature mandates ideological indoctrination, parents and students are voting with their feet. 

Meanwhile, public schools face the headwinds created by proposed curriculum requirements like this and the 2020 law mandating sexuality education from primary school through graduation. It’s getting harder to love and trust your local schools when they have lost the power to determine what is taught to our kids.

And when it comes to the content of the mandate in Senate Bill 5462, let’s start with a basic fact. 

Our kids are more than their sexuality. This isn’t a topic that our schools should be touching, and we shouldn’t focus on that as being the focus of a person’s character when considering the contributions of historical figures. 

We respect the separation of church and state, but requiring this type of learning infringes on the religious rights of parents to teach their children differently. When parents see their beliefs disrespected or contradicted in schools, many feel they have no opportunity but to leave the public school system. And I hear from many teachers who feel the same way — leaving the profession they love as they are increasingly forced to teach things they cannot support.

While “inclusion” is a popular theme these days, this bill would have the opposite effect by further politicizing our public schools and increasing the exodus of families who simply want a quality basic education, rather than seeing their children of all ages taught through ideological lenses with which they might not agree. 

Let’s return to local control of schools and curricula. Let’s support strong public schools that teach the crucial basics of a solid education. Let’s keep politics and cultural ideologies out of schools. Let’s tell the Legislature to say no to this bill and further divisions within our public school system.


SB 5462 already passed the state Senate on a party-line vote, with 29 Democrats in favor and 19 Republicans opposed. It now goes to the state House. If it passes there without changes, it will go to the governor for his signature.

The House Education Committee will hold a hearing on SB 5462 on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. In-person and remote testimony will be taken. Visit for information on how to testify. 

Now is the time to defend the foundation of non-ideological basic education that supports our teachers as they try to teach our kids how to read, write and solve problems. It’s what our communities want, our parents expect and our kids deserve.

Brian Mittge can be reached at