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Murrow College of Communication at WSU

Washington State voters to decide on sex-ed mandates in public schools

PULLMAN, Wash. – Fatherhood changed Evan Kuntz life.
The father of a two-year-old, Evan is a first-time voter this general election cycle. He admits, there’s some serious thinking to do with Referendum 90 on the ballot.
“It seems like they’re pushing it,” Kuntz said. “And may be giving out a little more information than they should.”
Referendum 90 is a public vote on the approval of Senate Bill 5395 – a comprehensive sexual education mandate impacting all K-12 public school students in the state.
The Approve 90 Campaign says all curriculum is age appropriate. Students in the K-3 range will be subject to “Social and Emotional Learning” to learn about personal boundaries, human development, how to identify a trusted adult, and manage emotions.
Parents can review these materials and opt out.
“If that’s what they really wanted this to be about, they would have mandated Erin’s Law. But they didn’t. They mandated comprehensive sexual education,” Head of A Voice For Washington Children Anniece Barker said.
An amendment to the senate bill that would have prohibited any further teaching outside these explicit boundaries was denied according to Barker. She fears this could potentially result in exposure to comprehensive sexual education for students who are not of appropriate age.
“What we know – through evidence – is that where comprehensive sexual education is taught, kids prolong having sex,” Approve 90 Campaign supporter Nikki Lockwood said. “So it’s safer.”
Some schools across that state, however, say the unfunded mandate takes power away from local districts.
”We are already behind in their 7-year adoption cycle for new instruction materials,” Mead School District in North Spokane said in response to the bill. “This unfunded mandate would add further strain to our adoption cycle and force us to delay purchasing much needed materials in other areas.”
The Approve 90 Campaign is adamant this bill will require no additional spending. Acceptable curriculum materials are available for free according to Lockwood.
“We’re not against sex-ed,” Barker said. “But we are against comprehensive sex-ed being forced into our schools. If the school district doesn’t have a voice, you as a parent don’t have a voice.”
“Instead of fighting against this important area of education for our students, let’s work on making better curriculum,” Lockwood said.
Five Whitman Country ballot box locations are open until Nov. 3. Ballots can also be mailed in via USPS long as it is postmarked by election day.



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