Sexual Health Education Legislation

Sexual Health Education Legislation

Up-date Regarding Sexual Health Education Legislation

 This year during the legislative session, the legislators have reviewed and voted to mandate that districts in Washington State have a comprehensive K-12 sexual health program. This has yet to be voted on by Governor Inslee which will most likely take place in the next week.

There are a number of parents and staff who have questions about this. There is some misinformation being circulated, I have contacted the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), they will be developing and releasing some formal guidance this week and will provide updates. In the meantime, here are the basics related to this bill.

There is not one curriculum that will be used in our state. Districts will continue to have a wide variety of choices, and will be able to decide what topics to introduce and at what grade level. Most districts in our state are already providing sexual health education and most would be able to continue using the same curriculum. As is currently true, parents or guardians may review materials and opt their child(ren) out of the sexual health instruction.

Instruction for students in K-3 will be social and emotional learning. There is no sexuality content required for those grades, just social and emotional learning. Social and emotional learning is learning about emotions, how to manage them, building empathy, compassion and respect for others, setting a maintaining personal boundaries, and communication skills. More information can be found here: https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/health-safety/mental-social-behavioral-health/social-and-emotional-learning-sel.

Most districts, including the Stanwood-Camano School District, are already addressing social emotional learning in K-3. OSPI will be providing a list of social and emotional learning curricula for districts who wish to adopt one, but again, there is no sexual health content required for K-3.

Instruction in grades 4-5 will continue to be puberty/human growth and development, which most districts already provide. Students will need to get age-appropriate instruction on affirmative consent (e.g. how to ask for a hug, respecting a “no” response). The Stanwood-Camano School District currently has a curriculum for 5th grade including human growth and development and AIDS/HIV. The HIV portion of the instruction may be deleted from the required sexual health program. There will be more guidance to come on this.

Stanwood-Camano secondary schools (grades 6-12) are already offering sexual health education, very little will change. Districts need to ensure their instruction is comprehensive (the basics would be abstinence plus other forms of protection against disease and pregnancy, basic information about the reproductive system, healthy relationships, and affirmative consent) and consistent with standards. The grade-level outcomes in the Health Education K-12 Learning Standards will continue to be optional for districts and serve as guidance, but not as a directive.

Timeline for Requirements and Implementation from OSPI:

  • Districts will need to ensure they are including affirmative consent in middle and high school beginning in the 2020-21 school year
  • If a district is already providing sexual health education (SHE) in every grade band, this bill will not require substantial changes. Otherwise, additional instruction would need to be added.
  • If districts are not already providing SHE, this needs to begin for grades 6-12 by the 2021-22 school year. Instruction will need to be provided.
  • Districts need to ensure their instruction is comprehensive (abstinence plus other forms of protection, basic information about the reproductive system, etc.) and consistent with standards. The grade-level outcomes will continue to be optional for districts and serve as guidance, but not as a directive.
  • Districts will need to provide something in grade 4 or 5 – most districts will continue to provide puberty education, so no major change here with the exception of consent – again, communicating and respecting boundaries. If this is not already being provided, it needs to begin by the 2022-23 school year.
  • If a district is already providing social and emotional learning in K-3, nothing else will be required. Otherwise, a district will need to start doing that, with or without a curriculum, including information about communicating and respecting personal boundaries. This needs to begin by the 2022-23 school year. There is no requirement for providing any sexual health/sexuality content for K-3.
  • Currently required HIV prevention instruction will no longer be required. Another bill that just passed is HB 1551, which updated the AIDS Omnibus Act. STD prevention will be required instead. 

More information will be posted when OSPI sends that information to districts. In the meantime, you can contact Lloy Schaaf at lschaaf@stanwood.wednet.edu if you have additional questions.