Mittge Commentary: Speak Up Now as Legislature Ponders Sexuality Education

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Parents and teachers need to pay attention to the legislative momentum of a bill mandating sexuality education in every school district in the state, starting in kindergarten, and fully implemented within two years. 

Some folks have hoped that since our schools already teach “birds and the bees” education on reproduction, disease prevention and HIV/AIDS, that this “comprehensive sexual health education” bill won’t change things. 

Quite the opposite. 

Senate Bill 5395 aims for complete integration of sex and sexuality education into every grade level starting in kindergarten. The bill is moving quickly with the majority party pushing it forward on party-line votes. 

I’ve written several times on this topic since the comprehensive sexuality bill was introduced last year. I’m tired of writing about it, but our community and families are worth fighting for. With the Legislature set to adjourn in less than two weeks, and with this proposal being one of the top priorities of the new Democratic leadership in the House, we need to be bold in speaking up for our children by standing against this mandate and loss of local choice. 

The bill, part of a national “comprehensive sexual health education” program (known as CSE or CSHE) is being pushed by Planned Parenthood. It aims to normalize discussions about sex and sexuality, starting in the classroom. Regardless of parental and community values, the bill takes as a given that all children, with a 13-year-plan starting in elementary school, need to discuss sexuality, gender theory and fluidity, the mechanics of sex, consent, and the pleasurable aspects of sexual expression.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, who last year compared those who oppose the bill to flat-earthers, says that the bill allows school districts to pick any curriculum they’d like. 

I guess that’s technically true, but with the strict requirements in the law about what any approved curriculum must cover, it’s the equivalent of Henry Ford famously telling Model T customers that they could pick any color they’d like, as long as it’s black. 

Check the Facebook group “Informed Parents of Washington” for some disturbing concepts included in approved CSE curricula.

Some people take comfort in a provision that requires districts to excuse students if parents request it in writing. And while that’s also true, it’s clear that the bill will change the culture of a school, even for those few students whose parents are active and informed enough to weigh in. 

It’s important to know that teachers have no way to opt-out. No teachers would be exempted from teaching these concepts, regardless of their personal beliefs or even their own assessment of their accuracy. 

Ironically, the bill requires that all instruction be “medically and scientifically accurate,” and yet it also requires teaching students that biological sex at birth may be different than a person’s gender. All schools will be required by law to teach gender fluidity. 

If this concerns you, it’s time to speak up. Call the state legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Give them your name and address, and tell them your opinion on Senate Bill 5395 and comprehensive sexual health education. It’s that simple and takes less than 90 seconds. 

If you’d like to go further, call up your representative and register your opinion directly with their office. 

If you oppose the bill, know that you’re not alone. A survey conducted by OSPI last year found that 58 percent of people are in opposition to mandatory CSE. And at a hearing last week, of 760 people that signed in on the bill, 634 were opposed to the bill. 

It’s worth noting that, until now at least, this has been a partisan process. Democrats have been in lock-step with their leadership in support, and all Republicans have been opposed. Of the two Democrats representing part of Lewis County (in the 19th Legislative District), Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview, is a co-sponsor of the bill and has voted in support. Democratic Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, has not yet taken a vote on the bill, but likely will soon. We’ll be watching his vote.

Senate Bill 5395 passed out of the House Education Committee on Thursday on a 9-8 party line vote. 

The slim Democratic majority on the committee voted down a number of Republican amendments, including provisions that would have:

Set the mandate to only take effect starting in seventh grade;

Required inclusion of internet safety protocols;

Removed gender theory from the curriculum requirements;

Prevented curriculum from requiring students to research genitals, genital-related anatomy, or “sex prevention devices” on the internet. (This actually is required in some approved CSE curricula);

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration. If it passes, it must pass again through the Senate before going to the governor. 

There’s time to weigh in, and I hope people do. I’m a huge believer and advocate for public schools. It’s hard enough for our schools to keep the support of their communities without being forced to teach things that parents will find morally objectionable. 

Unfortunately, this comprehensive sexuality education bill would move our schools in the wrong direction. I urge you to get involved, while there’s still time. 

Lawmakers need to know that we’re paying attention to their vote on this bill. 

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Brian Mittge can be reached at brianmittge@hotmail.com. 

 

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