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Sex indoctrination in Washington state

Voters approve controversial comprehensive sex ed measure

A resident campaigns against Referendum 90 in Gig Harbor, Wash. Facebook/Informed Parents of Washington

Sex indoctrination in Washington state

Washington state voters approved a sex education referendum on Tuesday despite a historic parent-led fight against it. The mandate is set to take effect at K-12 public schools later this school year. Referendum 90, Washington’s only statewide ballot measure this election cycle, marks the first time voters have directly made a decision on sex education. The vote was split about 60-40 by Wednesday.

“We’re disappointed at the results but proud of all that we accomplished,” said Whitney Holz, a mother of two young boys who also runs Informed Parents of Washington.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee in March signed a state law requiring districts to teach comprehensive sex education. The wide-ranging bill drew immediate backlash. Parent groups purchased copies of state-approved curriculum and began circulating examples of its graphic and inappropriate content on their websites and social media accounts.

The 3Rs curriculum from the LGBT group Advocates for Youth gives kindergarten children graphic descriptions of their genitals and confusing messages about their gender. Samples for sixth grade include sexual consent role-play and explicit description of sex acts. A high school lesson affirms LGBT lifestyles and leaves out the failure rate for various forms of birth control.

“This is not just a general sex ed,” said Jennifer Heine-Withee, a mother of three who runs Washington Parents Rights in Education. “This is grossly inappropriate and highly sexualized content.”

Even as the state was under strict lockdown due to the pandemic, Holz and other parent volunteers collected about 246,000 verified signatures within seven weeks, putting Referendum 90 on the November ballot.

Supporters of the measure, including Planned Parenthood, several prominent labor unions, and LGBT advocacy groups, raised over $1.69 million to promote it. They outspent parent groups 15 to 1, Holz said.

Now, as districts begin to implement new comprehensive sex ed, Holz challenged parents to get involved locally, attend district meetings, join the curriculum review board or the school board, and obtain and review sex ed materials. They can also choose to opt their children out.

At least 29 states plus Washington, D.C., have laws requiring public schools to teach sex education. But the issue has not appeared on a statewide ballot until now, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Education Commission of the States.

Holz said parents in Washington will continue to fight. Her group is disputing a separate state bill that would put health centers on middle and high school campuses, allowing students ages 13 to 17 to obtain confidential medical and mental healthcare on their parents’ insurance plan.

“I hope that other parents will look at this and see that it is something they can easily do,” Holz said. “Our kids are something we never stop fighting for.”

Mary Jackson

Mary is a book reviewer and reporter for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Greenville University graduate who previously worked for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. Mary resides with her family in the San Francisco Bay area.



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