During the 2020 legislative session, many in our community have reached out with questions about Senate Bill 5395. The bill, which passed the House early Thursday morning, requires public schools to teach comprehensive sexual health education to all K-12 students starting in the 2022-23 school year.
The measure, resurrected from failed legislation first introduced in the 2019 legislative session, passed on a 56-40 party-line vote after nearly six hours of contentious debate in the House that started Wednesday evening. The Senate passed the bill early in the 2020 session, but because the House made a number of changes to the bill as passed by the Senate, the measure must now go back to the Senate for a final vote before heading to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. It’s important to note that parent notification requirements and “opt-out” provisions remain in the bill that passed in the House (that is, the option for parents to notify the school that they will be opting their child(ren) out of this unit of instruction).
Be assured that the Deer Park School District Board of Directors and District Superintendent have taken an official public stance (and advocated for the position in Olympia) that curriculum decisions – including those about sexual health education – belong at the local school district level. Seeing that this legislative mandate is now poised to become law in our state, please know that our school district will exercise as much local control as allowable in order to meet any mandated requirements, keeping the learning needs of our students and the values of our community at the center of our work.
Ultimately, when the Governor signs the bill, we plan to engage our parents and community in the following ways:
- Convene a group of community stakeholders to review the Bill as passed
- Gather feedback from parents and the community through online surveys
- Begin the Deer Park School District Curriculum Material Adoption Process (this is a multi-step process with opportunities for input throughout the process)
- Examine multiple pathways for the dissemination of sexual health curriculum that meet the legislative mandates but also give families meaningful options
Deer Park School District is committed to keeping you informed with ongoing communication that is open and transparent. We understand that this legislation may be concerning to a number of families in our community. Our pledge is to work collaboratively with families to honor the many perspectives and viewpoints around adoption of comprehensive sexual health curriculum for use in our schools.