Sex education bills not expected to advance

SEATTLE – School children can learn more about sex from watching TV than from attending health classes in some Washington middle and high schools.

Washington schools are not required to teach sex ed. But in the districts where the topic does come up – between grades five and 12 – state law mandates students be taught about abstinence but teaching about birth control pills or other ways to prevent pregnancy is optional.

And that won’t be changing anytime soon. As in past years, legislators have been trying to change state law on sex ed – some want to add birth control to the curriculum and others would like to restrict the information offered to students – but none of the half-dozen bills proposed this year were expected to make it to the governor’s desk.

The Bellingham School District is a good example of how the current law works. Students are taught about condoms as part of the district’s AIDS education. But that’s the only mention of a birth control method other than abstinence, said Adrienne Nelson, the district’s director of curriculum.

Bellingham uses the state curriculum for sex education, after it passed an approval process with parents, medical professionals and other Bellingham community members.

Nelson didn’t seem enthusiastic about the idea of weaving something new into Bellingham’s version of the state sex ed curriculum, which she called excellent, or about the community meetings that would be required before the new information could be shared in the classroom.

In Seattle, where birth control is part of the sex ed curriculum, students at Ingraham High School couldn’t understand why adults wouldn’t want them to have all the information they need to make informed decisions about sex.

Julian Byrd, 14, said his parents don’t have the information or the right approach to encourage thoughtful behavior about sex.

His teacher, Tamara Brewer, said parents generally were not taught about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases, and aren’t as comfortable talking about them as their media-infused children.

Phauy Chey, 14, agreed: “They don’t know how to approach us with it.” Her parents demand she abstain from sex but don’t tell her why.

Even Dekeira Wright, 15, who plans to wait until marriage to have sex, said her devoutly Christian parents couldn’t offer arguments like the photos she saw in Brewer’s class about the impact of sexually transmitted diseases.

“It makes me not even want to kiss anyone,” said Kat McCarthy, 15.

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

Chanterelle’s sign hangs above the front door during the restaurant’s final day of business Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, in downtown Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
As Chanterelle closes, another local mainstay opens a new chapter

The Edmonds bistro, open since 1986, closed this month. Seattle Italian institution Ristorante Machiavelli is stepping up to fill its shoes.

A semi-truck rolled over blocking all traffic lanes Thursday morning on I-5 north just south of Arlington on Sept. 21, 2023. (Washington State Patrol)
Overturned trailer spills fish onto I-5 near Arlington, closing lanes

The crash blocked all lanes, forcing drivers going north during rush hour to use the left shoulder.

The Marysville Municipal Jail is pictured Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Marysville weighs mandatory jail time for repeated ‘public disorder’

The “three strikes” proposal sets a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail for crimes like public drug use and trespassing.

Everett police on patrol heard gunshots near 26th Street and Lombard Avenue and closed off multiple roads as they investigated on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Everett Police Department)
3 teens arrested after gunfire in downtown Everett

No one was injured. Police heard gunfire in the area of 26th Street and Lombard Avenue.

Most Read