Washingtonians react to comprehensive sex ed passing by a wide margin in the state

On the streets of Snohomish, there is a lot of chatter about voters approving a state mandate to offer comprehensive sex ed in schools.

 “All my friends and my neighborhood people kind of the same thing too much, too young, too soon,” Lisa Malone said.

Many high-school students already learn about sex-ed, but the mandate would require all schools to start lessons with kids in kindergarten.

Malone said she is surprised that Referendum 90 passed with a wide margin.

“I was beyond surprised because everyone I talked to express the same concern,” Malone said.

Malone doesn’t have kids but she’s fired up about the topic.

“It’s too much detail without parent approval,” Malone said.

In Bainbridge Island, Caitlin Lombardi who is expecting her third child said she supports the measure.

“Students who receive comprehensive age-appropriate sex education are better able to protect themselves from abuse,” Lombardi said.

OSPI will provide a detailed list of standards that school districts can choose from. It will not be one curriculum for all schools.

“It definitely can sound scary however the legislature was very specific in saying in kindergarten through 3rd grade the only required learning is social and emotional learning,” Katy Payne with OSPO said.

Current guidelines indicate that kindergarteners could learn things like what constitutes a healthy relationship, what is safe and unsafe touching to many ways gender is expressed.

By 5th grade, kids could learn about identifying methods of transmission, HIV prevention, and defining sexual abuse.

By 8th grade, students are taught about the effects of sexual activity and the proper steps oin the use of a condom.

“Middle school really focuses on that prevention aspect, consent, and bystander training,” Payne said.

As in how to intervene and get help when something is inappropriate. 

OSPI says these standards are guidelines and school districts will have a lot of control over how and what they implement. Payne said the goal is to provide equity so that all kids have access to the information.

The state also says parents have the choice to opt-out.

Supporters say more education will help kids make better choices.

“At least this way they are getting just the facts right this is how the pieces work together, this is what that makes a baby, these are the consequences of these actions,” Jules Sacerio said.

But Malone still says it is too much too soon. She says those details should be taught by parents, not by schools. Even if parents choose to opt their kids out she says they could still be exposed to it.

“You still have kids telling other kids that didn’t need or want to know about it and other parent’s families having to deal with all that,” Malone said.

The curriculums will be required to start this year for schools that already provide sex ed in the classrooms. Other schools will have to follow down the road.