Educating to Protect Our Children

Referendum 90

Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) is recurring sexual health education with the goal of producing safe and healthy people.

Safe and healthy people are individuals who:

  • Express love and intimacy in appropriate ways.

  • Avoid exploitative or manipulative relationships.

  • Recognize their own values and show respect for people with different values.

  • Take responsibility for and understand the consequences of their own behavior.

  • Communicate effectively with family, friends and partners.

  • Talk with a partner about sexual activity before it occurs, including sexual limits (their own and their partner’s), contraceptive and condom use, and meaning in the relationship.

  • Plan effectively for reproductive health and disease prevention regardless of gender.

  • Seek more information about their health as needed.


"Some people hear the words ‘sex education’ and mistake the focus of the curriculum, which is health and safety, and is age-appropriate for each grade level. This is about making sure younger children know what kind of touching is inappropriate, whether by peers or predators. It’s about helping older students recognize and resist abusive or coercive behavior. It’s about teaching all children to respect diversity and not to bully others. Students need a safe place to ask questions, to fully understand consent, and to have the information they need to make safe decisions. There are children who will be targeted for molestation in the coming year, there are young women who may face sexual coercion or assault. They need access to information and lessons that will enable them to make decisions to ensure their health and safety."

Claire Wilson, Washington State Senator

Sponsor of Senate Bill 5395 and vice-chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education CommitteeSOURCE: Senate passes Wilson’s comprehensive sexual health education bill

The Legislation In Plain Language

Senate Bill 5395

On March 7th, 2020, Washington State’s 66th Legislature passed SB 5395, to expand Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) in Washington State’s public schools. While there has been much debate about the law - and also a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about its impacts - its contents are fairly simple.

Washington Referendum 90

A vote to approve Referendum 90 supports allowing Senate Bill 5395 to take effect, thereby requiring public schools to provide Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) for all students, while also requiring public schools to grant opt-out requests for any student by parents/guardians.

What did SB 5395 change?

  1. By the 2022-2023 school year, all public schools will be required to teach comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE). (Previously, some school(s)/district(s) opted not to offer any sexual health education courses.)

  2. Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) must include instruction about consent and bystander training.

  3. Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) must be provided to public school students in grades 6th through 12th.

  4. Beginning the 2022-23 school year, comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) must be provided to all public school students.

  5. SB 5395 outlines how often comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) must be provided over a span of grade levels. No less than: Once for K-3, Once for 4-5, Twice for 6-8, Twice for 9-12.

  6. The only requirement for K-3 is social-emotional learning (SEL). Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is broadly understood as a process through which individuals build awareness and skills in managing emotions, setting goals, establishing relationships, and making responsible decisions that support success in school and in life.

  7. Schools MUST let parents know at the beginning of the school year that comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) will be taught that school year and provide access to all the course material by grade.

  8. Strengthened parental right to excuse their student from participating in comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE).

  9. Language is added to define age-appropriate “comprehensive sexual health education” by groups of grade levels. K-3 education will focus on social-emotional learning. Grades 4-12 will include information about individual development; communication skills; healthy behaviors and relationships that are free of violence, coercion, and intimidation; health care; understanding the influence of family, friends, and media on healthy relationships; as well as affirmative consent and bystander training.

What stayed the same?

  1. Comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) must still be medically and scientifically accurate, and age-appropriate.

  2. All curriculum must be inclusive of all students, regardless of their protected class status. (Examples: race, national origin, religion and creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, ...)

  3. When the curriculum discusses sexual health, it must include instruction regarding contraception (pregnancy prevention) and disease prevention. Abstinence may be taught, as long as other methods of contraception and disease prevention are also included.

  4. Parents still have the right to review the curriculum in advance, and excuse their student from participating.

  5. School districts still choose or design curriculum appropriate for their communities.

  6. Comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) must meet the 2005 guidelines.

  7. The OSPI reviews a list of resources that school districts may, but aren’t required to use in creating their comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) curriculum.

Original Sexual Health Education Law

SB 5395 amends RCW 28A.300.475, Washington’s already existing educational law, Medically accurate sexual health education—Curricula—Participation excused—Parental review.

The original law required that if schools offered sexual health education (SHE), the curriculum must be “medically and scientifically accurate, age-appropriate, appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, or sexual orientation, and includes information about abstinence and other methods of preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases,” by September 1, 2008. The law also required that the curriculum be available to parents for review, and that students may be excused from participating in sexual education curriculum (SHE) by their parents/guardians.

"Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) can help: improve academic success; prevent child sexual abuse, dating violence, and bullying; help youth develop healthier relationships; delay sexual initiation; reduce unplanned pregnancy, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and related disparities among youth; and reduce sexual health disparities among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth. "

“In short, quality sexuality education can go beyond the promotion of abstinence or even the prevention of unplanned pregnancy and disease to provide a life-long foundation for sexual health.”

The Future of Sex Education Initiative (FoSE)

Youth at Risk
The Need for Sexual Health Education in Schools

STDs - A Silent Epidemic

Young people ages 15–24 represent 25% of the sexually active population but acquire half of all new STDs. During the period of 2014 to 2018 there was a sharp increase in the reported cases of chlamydia (12.1% F, 32.8% M), gonorrhea (27.0%F, 44.1%M), and primary & secondary syphilis (72%F, 53.5%M) among adolescent females & males, aged 15 - 19. (STD Surveillance 2018)

In Washington, STD rates increased during the period of 2012-2016 by 7% among 15–17 year olds and 26% among 18–19 year olds (Department of Health, 2018).

Sexual Coercion, Sexual Violence, and Relationship Violence

In Washington state, 12.3% of 8th graders, 18.9% of 10th graders, and 25.2% of 12th graders have been forced into kissing, sexual touch, or intercourse when they did not want to. Female students who identify as multi-racial experience higher rates of victimization than their white counterparts (2018 Healthy Youth Survey).

School Safety and the Need for Inclusive Education

Schools nationwide can be hostile environments for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) students. The overwhelming majority of these students routinely hear anti-LGBTQ language and experience victimization and discrimination at school. As a result, many LGBTQ students avoid school activities or miss school entirely (Kosciw et al., 2018).

Compared to students in schools without an LGBTQ inclusive curriculum, LGBTQ students in schools with an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum were: • less likely to hear “gay” used in a negative way often or frequently (51.5% vs. 74.7%); • less likely to feel unsafe because of their sexual orientation (41.8% vs. 63.3%) and gender expression (34.6% vs. 47.0%); and experienced lower levels of victimization related to their sexual orientation and gender expression (Kosciw et al., 2018).

"[Senate Bill 5395] would help stop sexual and domestic violence by requiring public schools to include age-appropriate curriculum that develops healthy relationship behavior in students." Santos and Martin said, "For true culture change to happen around sexual and domestic violence, proactive education and prevention also is needed. Too often, young people don’t know how to ask for and receive consent, or how to engage in healthy relationships. ...It is particularly critical that young people receive reliable, accurate information in a digital age where harmful explicit materials are one click away."

Ben Santos and David Martin

Special Assault Unit and Domestic Violence Unit at the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s OfficeSOURCE: To stop sexual and domestic violence, start in the classroom

The Facts

Do Your Research. Be A Source Of Truth. Be An Informed Parent of Washington State.

  • Approving R90 implements Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) in all of Washington State public schools, that follows the State's 2005 guidelines.

  • All parents/guardians have the choice to “opt out” of Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE).

  • Grades K-3 education consists of SEL (social-emotional learning); no sexuality education is required.

  • Parents/guardians and community members can have an input in the curriculum selection at their local school district level.

  • Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) keeps kids safe by helping prevent abuse and exploitation: Every 9 minutes child protective services substantiates a claim of childhood sexual abuse: 1/3 of victims are under age 12: In 93% of cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim.

  • Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) is not integrated into other subjects or courses.

  • Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) must be inclusive of protected classes, including LGBTQ youth, per federal and state civil rights laws. Current CSHE does not address the needs of all youth.


Our Schools
Putting Our Children First

Rights of Parents and 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 if their child’s school will be providing sexual health education instruction.