Washingtonians support comprehensive sex health education
Washingtonians support comprehensive sex health education

Tonight, the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is engaged in a lengthy, seri­ous debate about Engrossed Sub­sti­tute Sen­ate Bill 5395, the com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion leg­is­la­tion request­ed by Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion Chris Reyk­dal. ESSB 5395 is one of NPI’s top leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties for the 2020 ses­sion and has drawn fierce, heat­ed oppo­si­tion from Republicans.

The bill passed the Sen­ate on a par­ty-line vote sev­er­al weeks ago and has been wind­ing its way through the House after dying in com­mit­tee last session.

This evening, ESSB 5395 final­ly reached the floor of the House.

Repub­li­cans, hop­ing to kill the bill, filed more than a hun­dred amend­ments against it, which you can see on the bil­l’s sum­ma­ry page. Speak­er Lau­rie Jink­ins decid­ed to bring the bill for­ward any­way, and the House is knee-deep in con­sid­er­a­tion of amend­ments as of this hour, with no end in sight.

Rank and file Repub­li­can mem­bers of the House — furi­ous at the prospect of the bill over­com­ing the obsta­cles they’ve thrown in its path — are refus­ing to abide by the rules and pro­ce­dures nego­ti­at­ed between the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic and House Repub­li­can cau­cus lead­er­ship for the bil­l’s con­sid­er­a­tion. That has result­ed in mul­ti­ple paus­es dur­ing the course of the debate. (When the House paus­es floor pro­ceed­ings, the Speak­er declares the cham­ber tem­porar­i­ly at ease.)

Repub­li­cans know that Democ­rats have the votes to pass the leg­is­la­tion if it gets a final vote on the floor, which is why they’re des­per­ate to pre­vent the bill from get­ting to that point. They’re evi­dent­ly hop­ing to drag out these pro­ceed­ings long enough that Democ­rats just get dis­gust­ed and give up.

To pre­vail, the Democ­rats will have to out­last the Repub­li­cans. That could mean remain­ing on the floor well into the wee hours of the morning.

If that is what it takes, then so be it. Young Wash­ing­to­ni­ans need this legislation.

Repub­li­cans keep argu­ing that the peo­ple of the state are on their side in oppos­ing this leg­is­la­tion, cit­ing con­stituent emails and oth­er non­sci­en­tif­ic met­rics of pop­u­lar opin­ion. In floor debate tonight, Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Brad Klip­pert argued that Democ­rats should “lis­ten to the people”.

“What are the major­i­ty of the peo­ple say­ing?” Klip­pert asked rhetorically.

Well, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Klip­pert, a large major­i­ty of the peo­ple of this state sup­port this bill. We know because we asked nine hun­dred like­ly Wash­ing­ton vot­ers (a rather large sam­ple) for their views on EESB 5395 last autumn. And 67% of them told us they sup­port­ed the bill, with 49% say­ing they strong­ly sup­port­ed the bill.

Here’s the ques­tion we asked, and the respons­es we received:

QUESTION: The Wash­ing­ton State Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion has asked the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture to adopt leg­is­la­tion requir­ing all Wash­ing­ton state schools to teach inclu­sive, evi­dence-informed, sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly accu­rate, com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion, which must include “affir­ma­tive con­sent” cur­ricu­lum. Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose or strong­ly oppose this legislation?


  • Sup­port: 67% 
    • Strong­ly Sup­port: 49%
    • Some­what Sup­port: 18%
  • Oppose: 22%
    • Some­what Oppose:  7%
    • Strong­ly Oppose: 15%
  • Not Sure: 11%

Our sur­vey of nine hun­dred like­ly 2019 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field Octo­ber 22nd-23rd, 2019. The sur­vey used a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sages to cell phone only respon­dents. As men­tioned, the poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence level.

As ESSB 5395’s prime spon­sor Sen­a­tor Claire Wil­son has said, knowl­edge is pow­er. Young peo­ple shouldn’t have to rely on savvy peers or the Inter­net to learn how to take care of them­selves, under­stand their bod­ies, and main­tain appro­pri­ate rela­tion­ships built on con­sent and hon­est communication.

As our research demon­strates, the vast major­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers agree with Sen­a­tor Claire Wil­son and pro­po­nents of ESSB 5395.

The oppo­si­tion to this bill may be vocal and pas­sion­ate, but oppo­nents of this leg­is­la­tion do not speak for a major­i­ty of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans.

The Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives must pass ESSB 5395.

We at NPI thank Speak­er Lau­rie Jink­ins for her com­mit­ment to the young peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton. Choos­ing to move for­ward with a floor debate in the face of the House Repub­li­cans’ des­per­ate tac­tics could­n’t have been an easy deci­sion. But a suc­cess­ful vote in sup­port of this bill will be a great out­come for Washingtonians.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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12 replies on “Over two in three Washington voters support comprehensive sexual health education”

  1. Your ques­tion to vot­ers is mis­lead­ing. To get an accu­rate vot­er “sup­port” [fig­ure] you need to include all the bill entails. There are many good lessons. Includ­ing ones on bul­ly­ing, diver­si­ty, friend­ship, and abuse. How­ev­er, it’s the rest of the bill that includes sex­u­al knowl­edge that is not age appro­pri­ate and lots that will only be con­fus­ing to brains that aren’t devel­oped enough to com­pre­hend the complexity. 

    I would appre­ci­ate read­ing a “sta­tis­tic” that comes from a true study of those who under­stand the 600+ page bill. I’ve read it, have you?

    1. Claire, you obvi­ous­ly haven’t read the bill, or else you would­n’t be mak­ing prov­ably false com­ments about it in pub­lic. Engrossed Sen­ate Sub­sti­tute Bill 5395 is four pages long, not more than six hun­dred as you claim. Our staff *has* read the bill, as well as its pre­vi­ous ver­sions and the non­par­ti­san staff analy­sis, which I high­ly com­mend to your atten­tion. The lat­est non­par­ti­san staff analy­sis is avail­able here.

      With regards to our ques­tion, you are incor­rect. The ques­tion is not mis­lead­ing. It is neu­tral­ly word­ed and fair. It states key facts about the bill, includ­ing who is request­ing it and what it seeks to accom­plish. The lan­guage used in the ques­tion was actu­al­ly derived from the bill, which, as I men­tioned, our staff has read.

      The bil­l’s syn­op­sis is as follows:

      AN ACT Relat­ing to requir­ing com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion that is con­sis­tent with the Wash­ing­ton state health and phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion K‑12 learn­ing stan­dards and that requires affir­ma­tive con­sent cur­ricu­lum; and amend­ing RCW 28A.300.475.

      Sec­tion 1 of the bill amends an exist­ing statute to declare:

      By Sep­tem­ber 1, 2021, every pub­lic school must pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion as an inte­gral part of the cur­ricu­lum that is evi­dence-informed, med­ical­ly and sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly accu­rate, age-appro­pri­ate, and inclu­sive for all stu­dents regard­less of their pro­tect­ed class sta­tus under chap­ter 49.60 RCW.

      The above is what the law will say if the bill is approved. 

      Now con­sid­er the lan­guage of our question: 

      The Wash­ing­ton State Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion has asked the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture to adopt leg­is­la­tion requir­ing all Wash­ing­ton state schools to teach inclu­sive, evi­dence-informed, sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly accu­rate, com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion, which must include “affir­ma­tive con­sent” cur­ricu­lum. Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose or strong­ly oppose this legislation?

      As you can see, the lan­guage for our ques­tion was derived from the bill itself. The ques­tion accu­rate­ly describes the bill and is there­fore not misleading. 

      You are also incor­rect in your asser­tion that the bill man­dates cur­ricu­lum that isn’t age appro­pri­ate. It’s the oppo­site: the bill explic­it­ly states that cur­ricu­lum must be “age appro­pri­ate”. If you read fur­ther, you’ll see the bil­l’s require­ments that cur­ricu­lum must be sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly vet­ted and med­ical­ly accu­rate are defined; there is an expla­na­tion of what that means. The bill is sup­port­ed by the med­ical and pub­lic health com­mu­ni­ty, by the way.

      Next time, do some research before you com­ment. It’ll do you good! 🙂 

  2. What are the dif­fer­ences between HB 2184 and SB 5395? It seems the SB 5395 has passed both House and Sen­ate, where­as HB 2184 has­n’t got­ten out of the House. Are these bills fun­da­men­tal­ly different?

    1. Thanks for the ques­tion, Makenzie. 

      HB 1407 was the orig­i­nal com­pan­ion to SB 5395, but it did not advance. HB 2184 was intro­duced very late last ses­sion and got all the way to Appro­pri­a­tions before being shelved. It’s dead for the session.

      Here you can see a cool inter­ac­tive com­par­i­son between the last ver­sion of HB 2184 before it was shelved and the ver­sion of SB 5395 that was vot­ed upon by the House.

      There are mul­ti­ple ver­sions of each of these bills, so you have to spec­i­fy which doc­u­ments you want to com­pare for our staff to prop­er­ly answer your ques­tion. For exam­ple, maybe you want to know what the dif­fer­ences are between the orig­i­nal bills in the House and Sen­ate. Or maybe you want to know the dif­fer­ences between the last bill the House and Sen­ate con­sid­ered. The com­par­i­son linked above is between two drafts of this leg­is­la­tion authored in the House, one of which replaced a bill that came over from the Senate.

      Con­fus­ing, we know! 

      The House and Sen­ate have not yet agreed upon the lan­guage they want. That’s the next step in this process: reconciliation. 

      If the Sen­ate likes the House­’s changes to its bill, it will vote to con­cur, and then Inslee will get the bill. If the Sen­ate does­n’t like the changes, it can ask the House to recede from its amend­ments. That puts the ball back in the House­’s court. If the House stands down, the bill would go to the Gov­er­nor. If not, then a con­fer­ence com­mit­tee would be appoint­ed to nego­ti­ate a final ver­sion, which would be approved or reject­ed in an up-or-down vote.

  3. When the major­i­ty makes the law, then the major­i­ty will have to answer to some body. Don’t for­get who cre­at­ed us all. Remem­ber it is dread­ful thing to fall into the court of the judge of all judges. Hope we are not being judged already…

    1. The major­i­ty that vot­ed for this bill was elect­ed by the peo­ple of the State of Wash­ing­ton. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment at work!

  4. Two of my rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sen­a­tor are deaf. I called and emailed them about this sex edu­ca­tion bill, and have not got any replies back! And you have [the] nerve to say they rep­re­sent my fam­i­ly or my rel­a­tives, who also con­tact­ed them with­out suc­cess. None of them are our rep­re­sen­ta­tives, when they have deaf ears toward their constituents!

    This com­ment has been edit­ed by NPI for gram­mar.

    1. Just because you have not received a reply back yet does­n’t mean your rep­re­sen­ta­tives are “deaf”, as you claim. State leg­is­la­tors usu­al­ly have a staff of one or two peo­ple and it can take time to respond to every­one. You’re more like­ly to receive a response if your mes­sage is coher­ent and polite in tone.

  5. OSPI [the Office of the Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion] also con­duct­ed a sur­vey of more than 10,000 peo­ple (ten times more than your sur­vey) ask­ing, “Should com­pre­hen­sive, age-appro­pri­ate, med­ical­ly accu­rate sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion be required for all stu­dents in grades K‑12?” and 58% respond­ed, “No”.

    1. OSPI’s sur­vey was not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the elec­torate. The respon­dents were self-select­ed, and right wing groups mobi­lized their mem­bers to com­plete the sur­vey in order to skew the result in their favor. So it does­n’t mat­ter that the num­ber of respon­dents was high­er than in our sur­vey. Pub­lic opin­ion research is a sci­ence. A sur­vey con­sist­ing of respons­es that is not a sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly valid sam­ple is not com­pa­ra­ble to a sur­vey that did uti­lize the sci­en­tif­ic method, as ours did.

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