Hundreds of parents, children and other concerned citizens came to the state Capitol Thursday to attend a public hearing and testify on a controversial sex education bill. The measure would require it be taught in all Washington’s public schools, from kindergarten through high school. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast filed this report from Olympia.
SATTGAST: Citizens lined up more than two hours before the 8 a.m. hearing on Senate Bill 5395, which would require public schools to implement a detailed – and in some cases, very graphic – curriculum of sex education.
Proponents say the Democratic-sponsored bill would encourage healthy, consensual relationships, deter sexual violence and guard against sex predators. But opponents, such as Richland behavior specialist Zandra Zupan, argued the new, approved curricula is more harmful than good.
ZUPAN: “Giving kids knowledge about sex education does help protect them. However, the material in these new curriculums promotes sexual grooming, predatory mannerisms and illicit addictive behaviors.”
SATTGAST: More than 750 people signed up to testify – 634 in opposition – but most didn’t get a chance to speak during the hour-long hearing in the House Education Committee.
Sarah Davenport-Smith of the Family Policy Institute said parents who attended are concerned the state is stepping on their right to educate their children as they see fit.
DAVENPORT-SMITH: “It really seems to be infringing on parental rights. The state coming in and pushing a certain morality on the children without the parents’ consent.”
Vancouver Republican Representative Vicki Kraft says it’s time for legislators to listen to parents.
KRAFT: “If you ask parents whether or not they’re going to go sit in a corner and just let the government tell their kids things they are not comfortable with — more will come out saying ‘these are my kids and I will fight for them and I will stand up to protect them.’”
SATTGAST: In a crowded overflow room after the hearing, Port Orchard Republican Representative Michelle Caldier said the bill could be passed from committee in a few days. She asked citizens to stay involved and keep up the fight.
CALDIER: “Keep the emails coming, keep coming into people’s offices. But we need to stop this bill! We’re going to do it!”
SATTGAST: John Sattgast, Olympia