Sen. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, at right, looks over at Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, ranking minority member of Senate Transportation Committee, at left, after participating in a panel during a legislative session preview in the Cherberg Building at the Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024 in Olympia, Washington. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Sen. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, at right, looks over at Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, ranking minority member of Senate Transportation Committee, at left, after participating in a panel during a legislative session preview in the Cherberg Building at the Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024 in Olympia, Washington. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Edmonds senator wants LGBTQ+ history taught in public schools

Sen. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, is the bill’s prime sponsor and one of the Legislature’s LGBTQ+ members.

By Jerry Cornfield / Washington State Standard

Public schools must integrate instruction about the contributions and perspectives of LGBTQ+ people into their curricula under legislation the Washington state Senate approved on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 5462 passed on a mostly party-line vote following a brief floor debate in which Democrats said LGBTQ+ students need to know of trailblazing LGBTQ+ individuals. Republicans countered that the goal can be achieved without a state mandate.

“We need to tell the stories of the people that have led the way in the progress we have made,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, the bill’s prime sponsor and one of the Legislature’s LGBTQ+ members.

“We are among the pioneers in this room and our state is a pioneer and we need to tell those stories,” he said. “That’s what this bill would do in our public schools.”

Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, who is a former school board member, rose in opposition.

“Here we go again. The Washington State Senate is once again becoming the Washington State Senate School Board,” he said.

It’s fine if a school district wants to adopt the model curricula envisioned in the legislation, he said, but having the Legislature “force feed” the policy to all 295 districts statewide is wrong.

The bill passed 29-19 with only Republicans voting against it. Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, voted for the bill. He said afterwards it was an error but he realized it too late to change his vote on the floor.

Majority Democrats passed the same bill by the same margin last year.

The legislation sets a timeline for ensuring contributions of LGBTQ+ people are taught in public, tribal-state compact and charter schools statewide by the 2025-26 school year.

By Dec. 1, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, in concert with the Washington state LGBTQ Commission, must review and update existing state learning standards at all grade levels to incorporate contributions and perspectives of LGBTQ+ people.

Then, by June 1, 2025, the Washington State School Directors’ Association, with the help of OSPI, must come up with a model policy and procedure for designing courses and selecting materials for use in classrooms.

By Oct. 1, 2025, schools must act to incorporate the elements of the model policy.

In addition, the bill directs educational service districts to have an “inclusive curricula coordinator” to assist school districts in complying with the new requirements. A provision in the legislation says coordinators must make sure “diversity, equity, and inclusion are interwoven throughout curricula and not treated as a stand-alone topic.”

Prior to the vote, Liias and Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, a leading legislative voice in marriage equality battles, said there’s evidence LGBTQ+ students’ academic achievement and mental health improve when LGBTQ+ people like themselves are part of a course curriculum

“The primary beneficiaries of this bill are the kids,” Pedersen said.

Hawkins and Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham, said mandating the curricula infringes on school boards’ ability to decide locally how instruction is delivered. It will sow division and could spur parents to pull their children out of public schools.

“This bill will actually force parents to leave,” McCune said.

Senate Bill 5462 now goes to the House. It lapsed in that chamber’s education committee last session.

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: info@washingtonstatestandard.com. Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and Twitter.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
Small plane lost power in crash north of Paine Field, flight club says

The pilot reportedly called 911, stuck in a tree, on Friday. The sole occupant survived “without a scratch,” the president of Puget Sound Flyers said.

The PUD Everett Substation on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Delta residents rip PUD power line plan to cut through neighborhood

The PUD said the poles will connect two Everett power stations amid “increasing electrical demand.” Locals feel it shows a lack of “forethought.”

IonQ CEO Peter Chapman, left, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, right, cut a ribbon during an IonQ event at their research and manufacturing facility on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Nation’s first quantum computing manufacturing plant opens in Bothell

IonQ, a Maryland-based firm, expects to add hundreds of jobs and invest $1 billion in the region over the next 10 years.

Lyla Anderson and others sign a petition to save the Clark Park gazebo during a “heart bomb” event hosted by Historic Everett on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Too much Everett to throw away’? Gazebo’s impending end stirs emotions

A demolition date hasn’t been confirmed for the Clark Park gazebo, but city staff said it’s too expensive to save. “The decision’s been made.”

A person turns in their ballot at a ballot box located near the Edmonds Library in Edmonds, Washington on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Presidential primary ballots en route to Snohomish County voters

Voters must indicate a party preference to vote for a candidate. Ballots are due March 12.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. All public and private schools in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties must close for six weeks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
WA boost in student homelessness funding reaches more districts

Edmonds schools are using money to provide support specifically for its homeless seniors living without a parent or guardian.

People look out onto Mountain Loop Mine from the second floor hallway of Fairmount Elementary on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mining company ordered to stop work next to school south of Everett

After operating months without the right paperwork, OMA Construction applied for permits last week. The county found it still violates code.

Snohomish County Jail. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Arlington woman arrested in 2005 case of killed baby in Arizona airport

Annie Sue Anderson, 51, has been held in the Snohomish County Jail since December. She’s facing extradition.

Ken Florczak, president of the five-member board at Sherwood Village Mobile Home community on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How Mill Creek mobile home residents bought the land under their feet

At Sherwood Village, residents are now homeowners. They pay a bit more each month to keep developers from buying their property.

Lake Serene in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service)
How will climate change affect you? New tool gives an educated guess

The Climate Vulnerability Tool outlines climate hazards in Snohomish County — and it may help direct resources.

Shirley Prouty (Submitted photo)
Shirley Prouty, Arlington historian and grandma to all, dies at 92

Prouty chronicled “100 Years of Arlington” in a series of books. “She’d turn over any rock,” a former mayor said.

Arlington man suspected of DUI in fatal I-5 crash

Police said the man was driving the wrong way south of Tacoma and crashed into another car. Angelica Roberto Campos, 52, later died.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.