Senate Bill 5395 — a bill that requires comprehensive, inclusive and medically accurate sex education in all Washington public schools — has successfully passed the Washington state Senate. This bill protects the safety of young people by providing accurate and inclusive information so they can consciously navigate their sexual lives.
In 2014, I was a part of Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council in Snohomish County, a peer-led sexual education program. Our lesson topics ranged from STD prevention, healthy relationships, dating violence, birth control and consent. I had the unique experience of educating my peers about sexual health; I taught anyone from new mothers in high school to middle schoolers in their first sexual education lessons, and received much of the same feedback: “I had no idea about that.” This lack of knowledge is unacceptable.
Currently, Washington state does not require comprehensive sexual education in schools across the state, and this is a problem. LGBTQ youth are left completely out of the conversation, as the current curriculum does not require that students learn about gender expression or queer sexual identity. And, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44 percent of women and 25 percent of men experienced some kind or form of contact in sexual violence in their lifetime; it’s a epidemic we can’t ignore.
I urge the state House of Representatives to pass SB 5395 and mandate medically accurate sex education. Washington state has the chance to lead in progressive sex education legislation, and we must seize this opportunity.