PSD Information on Sexual Health Education Legislation

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Pasco School District has received questions about the impact of new legislation (SB 5395) passed by the House and the Senate and currently in the final stages of being adopted into law. Based on an analysis of SB 5395 and guidance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) against Pasco School District current practice, we have identified what will change and what will not change for our staff, students, and parents. 

It is important to keep in mind while we work together to make sense of the impact of SB 5395 that local school districts have (and will retain in the new bill) the authority and the flexibility to determine what standards will be taught and what materials will be used based on the needs of their students and families.  

Should the governor sign SB 5395 into law, we will review the final legislation and future guidance from OSPI to determine what changes we may need to implement in the future.  

What will change should SB 5395 become law? 

If a school district was not teaching sexual health education, they will have to start by 2022-2023. So, while this is a change for some districts, it is not for PSD. We have and have had Physical Education and Health curriculum for grades K-12 that include Human Growth and Development programs along with the state required HIV/AIDS prevention programs. 

The bill requires teaching of “affirmative consent” to older students so they can recognize inappropriate or unwanted behavior and their right to reject. That being said, there are no lesson plans or details included in the legislation about what this means. PSD, in collaboration with our stakeholders, has the authority to decide when and how this will be taught. 

What will remain the same? 

  • There is no mandated statewide curriculum. Local school districts have the authority and the flexibility to determine what best meets the needs of their students and families. 
  • K-12 Learning Standards will continue to be optional for districts and serve as guidance, not as a directive. 
  • School districts have the authority to choose their own curriculum, materials, and speakers.
  • Curriculum must still be ”consistent with” the 2005 guidelines for sexual health information and disease prevention.
  • Curriculum must still be “consistent with” the 2016 K–12 Washington State Learning Standards for Health and Physical Education. Curriculum materials are locally determined through a collaborative process with our stakeholders. 
  • The only obligation under the law for Districts are HIV/AIDS prevention (beginning in grade 5), CPR, and the use of external defibrillators. 
  • The state provides a list of comprehensive sexual health education curricula. This is a resource. It is not required. 
  • Beginning in grades 6–8, abstinence is presented as the most effective method to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. 
  • All information must be age appropriate, as determined by the local school district in collaboration with stakeholders. 
  • The curriculum must encourage healthy relationships based on mutual respect and free from violence, coercion, and intimidation. 
  • All information must be medically and scientifically accurate, and inclusive for all students regardless of protected class status. 
  • Parents have the right to review the curriculum and opt their children out of all or any part of the curriculum. Districts are required to grant a parent request to excuse their child from a sexual health education curriculum. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

I am hearing that SB 5395 will require sexual education to be taught to students in grades K-3. Is that true?

According to the language in SB 5395, "Comprehensive sexual health education for students in kindergarten through grade three must be instruction in social-emotional learning that is consistent with learning standards and benchmarks adopted by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction." You can learn more about those social-emotional learning standards and benchmarks HERE.

How will I know when the HIV/AIDS and Human Growth and Development materials can be previewed? 

Pasco School District provides notice on our website, through our District notification system, social media platforms, and as part of our annual notices published in the School District Calendar. The review happens annually in September. 

How do I opt my child out?   

During the preview event, you will sign an exclusion form for your child. 

What does “in collaboration with stakeholders mean”? 

All curriculum adoptions are approved by the School Board through a public process only after the District has implemented a review process. The review process includes educational staff, parents and community members.   

I would like to get involved with the curriculum review process. How can I do that? 

Curriculum materials are reviewed on a cycle that is overseen by the Curriculum and Professional Development Department. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Carla Lobos, Executive Director of Curriculum and Professional Development at clobos@psd1.org or (509) 543-6746. 

 

Posted: March 11, 2020