Dear Parents and Families:
I would like to inform you of new education requirements for schools in regards to Sexual Health Education, and how this affects your child’s instruction. Senate Bill 5395, passed by the State Legislature in 2020, required that all schools provide comprehensive sexual health education by the 2022–23 school year. This bill was then brought to the people for a vote, under Referendum 90, and passed.
Comprehensive sexual health education is defined in the bill as instruction about human development and reproduction that takes place over time and is age-appropriate and inclusive of all students. Washington state law currently requires annual HIV/AIDS prevention education beginning no later than grade 5, which has been implemented into our school system for years. Garfield County Health district partners with us to provide this education.
Beginning in the 2022–23 school year, students in grades K–3 are required to receive social-emotional learning. There is no sexual health content required for students in grades K–3. Social-emotional learning is learning about respectful communication, healthy friendships, respecting personal space, and managing emotions. Our district has already been teaching these concepts, which are taught by our elementary counselor, Amy Smith, using the Second Step Curriculum. Also by 2022-2023, instruction required for grades 4–5 focuses on helping students understand and respect personal boundaries, develop healthy friendships, and gain a basic understanding of human growth and development.
Older students will receive age-appropriate information about human growth and development and the reproductive system, healthy relationships, consent, abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy prevention methods. Beginning in the 2021–22 school year, we will provide instruction at least twice between grades 6–8 and at least twice between grades 9–12.
Our district will continue to make decisions about what curriculum and educational materials we will use for sexual health instruction. We will also ensure that only the required components are implemented and that all topics are age-appropriate. There is not one single curriculum required for use in Washington schools. Our district, in partnership with parents and community members, will make decisions on what curriculum will be implemented. We will provide more information about how parents and guardians can provide input soon.
You will be able to opt your child or children out of instruction with a written request, and you will also be able to review our sexual health curriculum prior to instruction taking place.
For more information about Senate Bill 5395 and its requirements, please visit the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) website at https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/resources-subject-area/sexual-health-education/new-legislation-senate-bill-5395-comprehensive-sexual-health-education.
I would encourage you to read the frequently asked questions on the OSPI website, as it provides very clear information about what is required to be taught and what is not. I truly believe that misinformation has been presented to the public about these requirements. Please take the time to review the information and trust that we always have the best interest of our students in mind when it comes to education, particularly with sensitive topics such as this.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.