Comprehensive Sexual Health Education

Sexual Health Education Now Required in Schools

In November of 2020, Washington voters approved Referendum 90, requiring the teaching of comprehensive sexual education in grades 4-12, with a social emotional focus in grades K-3. The law provides flexibility in regard to when sexual health is first taught, yet it must be taught once in grades 4 or 5 beginning in the 2022-23 school year. In grades 6-12, public schools must begin phasing in the lessons in the 2021-22 school year, and instruction must be consistent with Washington’s Health Education Learning Standards. Comprehensive sexual health must be taught twice in grades 6-8 and twice in grades 9-12. The law continues to allow parents to opt-out of sexual health instruction.

In 1988 the Washington State Legislature passed the AIDS Omnibus Act. This act mandates HIV/AIDS/STD prevention education beginning in Grade 5 and continuing through Grade 12. DPSD has complied with the Act since its inception. All instructional elements of the AIDS Omnibus Act presently in place in DPSD will be integrated into materials/units implemented to meet the requirements of ESSB 5395.

Contact Information

With the passage of Senate Bill 5395, all public schools must begin providing or planning to provide comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) to all students in grades 4-12 by the 2022-23 school year. Sexual health education is not required in grades K-3, where only instruction in “social emotional learning” is required. While all instruction must be consistent with Health Education K-12 Learning Standards, it is not required that every standard be addressed. The Health Education Standards simply provide a framework for comprehensive health instruction and the provisions of Senate Bill 5395. CSHE is defined in the bill as: Recurring instruction in human development and reproduction that is medically and scientifically accurate, age-appropriate and inclusive of all students regardless of their protected class status, and include information about abstinence and other methods of preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

According to language in the bill, the only required content is the following:

  • In grades K-3, instruction must be in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) – learning to do things like manage feelings, set goals, and get along with others. Instruction must be consistent with Social and Emotional Learning Standards and Benchmarks. (Note: there is NO sexuality content required for students in grades K-3.)
  • In grades 4-12, instruction must be consistent with Health Education K-12 Learning Standards and include age-appropriate, medically/scientifically accurate and inclusive information about:
    • The physiological, psychological, and sociological developmental processes experienced by an individual;
    • Abstinence and other methods of preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases;
    • Health care and prevention resources;
    • The development of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills to communicate, respectfully and effectively, to reduce health risks and choose healthy behaviors and relationships based on mutual respect and affection, and free from violence, coercion, and intimidation;
    • The development of meaningful relationships and avoidance of exploitative relationships;
    • Understanding the influences of family, peers, community and the media throughout life on healthy sexual relationships;
    • Affirmative consent and recognizing and responding safely and effectively when violence or a risk of violence is or may be present, with strategies that include bystander training.

Public schools retain the authority to choose a curriculum suggested by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) or to identify, choose, or develop a different curriculum – assuming it complies with applicable requirements. If a public school chooses to use materials that are not from the OSPI list, the public school or applicable school district, in consultation with OSPI, must conduct a review of the selected or developed curriculum to ensure compliance with the requirements.

RIGHTS OF PARENTS/GUARDIANS

Parents and guardians have the right to opt their child out of any or all instruction in comprehensive sexual health education.
• School districts must honor the parent or guardian’s request to opt their child out.
• School districts must consult with parents and guardians in the adoption of their
locally determined comprehensive sexual health education curriculum.
• School districts must notify parents and guardians at the beginning of the school year when
their child’s school will be providing sexual health education instruction and make
instructional materials available to parents and guardians for review.

Parent Notification:

In Deer Park, we intend to adhere to a more proactive communication plan than recommended.

Middle School Parent Notification:

At the middle school, our practice is to communicate with parents when the topic will be addressed two months in advance via the school newsletter. This communication also includes information about the parent preview opportunity and the date that parents can attend to learn more and preview materials. Then a month before instruction, the parents are notified again but in a specific email addressing the topic. The opt-out form is attached to this email (they do not have to request the form-it is automatically provided to all parents). If parents intend to have their child opt-out, we do not require the actual form or have a firm deadline. If they call or email their request any time prior to instruction with the request to opt their child out, we honor the request.

As we receive opt-out requests the office keeps a list and those students are invited to different learning activities in a separate location during the time the content is addressed.

High School Notification:

At the high school level, most of the communication comes from the classroom teacher to parents both to inform them of the upcoming content and the opportunity to opt-out. We intentionally selected the high school curriculum because it requires parent participation throughout the units to ensure continued parent engagement as topics are addressed.

Sexual Health Education is not addressed and not required in grades K-3; instead, the bill stipulates that Social-Emotional Learning standards and benchmarks must be addressed (more information available using the following link:  Washington’s K-12 Social Emotional Learning Standards and Benchmarks).
In grades 4-12, instruction addresses information about:
The physiological, psychological, and sociological developmental processes experienced by an individual; (WSD covers these topics in grades 5-8, and HS);
Abstinence and other methods of preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; (WSD covers these topics in grades 5-8 and HS);
Health care and prevention resources;
The development of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills to communicate, respectfully and effectively, to reduce health risks and choose healthy behaviors and relationships based on mutual respect and affection, and free from violence, coercion, and intimidation;
The development of meaningful relationships and avoidance of exploitative relationships;
Understanding the influences of family, peers, community, and the media throughout life on healthy sexual relationships; and
Affirmative consent and recognizing and responding safely and effectively when violence or a risk of violence is or may be present, with strategies that include bystander training.
The tables below outline specific content addressed in each grade band. “Grade-level outcomes are provided as examples only and do not represent a required course of instruction.” (OSPI Website Requirements by Grade Section)
Parent Notification:

Parents and guardians must be notified in advance of planned instruction, must be able to review all Comprehensive Sexual Health Education instructional materials, and must be given the opportunity to opt their child out of CSHE instruction. If you wish to opt your child out you can access the form here.

, we adhere to a more proactive communication plan than recommended.

Middle School Parent Notification:

At the middle school, our practice is to communicate with parents when the topic will be addressed two months in advance via the school newsletter. This communication also includes information about the parent preview opportunity and the date that parents can attend to learn more and preview materials. Then a month before instruction, the parents are notified again but in a specific email addressing the topic. The opt-out form is attached to this email (they do not have to request the form-it is automatically provided to all parents). If parents intend to have their child opt-out, we do not require the actual form or have a firm deadline. If they call or email their request any time prior to instruction with the request to opt their child out, we honor the request.

As we receive opt-out requests the office keeps a list and those students are invited to different learning activities in a separate location during the time the content is addressed.

High School Notification:

At the high school level, most of the communication comes from the classroom teacher to parents both to inform them of the upcoming content and the opportunity to opt-out. We intentionally selected the high school curriculum because it requires parent participation throughout the units to ensure continued parent engagement as topics are addressed.