A majority of Washington voters support the state’s new comprehensive sexual health education law and are voting to keep it the law of the land, a recent statewide survey conducted for the Northwest Progressive Institute has found.
56% of likely Washington State voters said they were voting “Approved” on Referendum 90, defying the right wing campaign that is seeking to overturn the law, while just 33% said they are voting “Rejected”. 11% were not sure.
These numbers are an encouraging sign for the Safe & Healthy Youth Washington Coalition, which is working to defend the law. (NPI is a member of the coalition.) They indicate that an increasing number of voters have a positive view of the law, prime sponsored by Senator Claire Wilson (D‑30th District: Federal Way).
Back in the spring, when we read likely voters the ballot title, 54% said they would vote “Approved” if the election were being held then, and 34% said they would vote rejected, while 12% were not sure.
As of mid-October, there were slightly more voters in the “Approved” camp, fewer in the “Rejected” camp, and fewer who are not sure. That’s good news across the board for progressives, and bad news for the state’s right wing.
Here’s the text of the question we asked, and the responses:
QUESTION: Referendum 90, on the current statewide ballot, concerns comprehensive sexual health education. The official description is as follows: This bill would require school districts to adopt or develop, consistent with state standards, comprehensive age-appropriate sexual health education, as defined, for all students, and excuse students if their parents request. Are you voting Approved or Rejected on this referendum?
- Voting Approved: 56%
- Voting Rejected: 33%
- Not Sure: 11%
Our survey of six hundred and ten likely 2020 Washington State voters was in the field from Wednesday, October 14th through Thursday, October 15th.
It utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines and text message answers from cell phone only respondents.
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% confidence level.
Republicans — from Caleb Heimlich and Tim Eyman to J.T. Wilcox and Mark Schoesler — have all seemingly convinced themselves that Democrats set themselves up for failure by adopting ESSB 5395. But that’s just not so.
Republican activists and party officials may not like the idea of kids being able to receive age-appropriate, scientifically accurate sex education no matter what zip code they live in, but most Washingtonians do. They understand and appreciate that knowledge is power. Young people unquestionably benefit from learning about affirmative consent and respectful, healthy relationships.
The actual number of voters who support comprehensive sex ed in principle is even higher than the percentage of voters who are planning to vote for Referendum 90 this year. When we asked likely Washington voters a year ago if they supported sex ed, 67% said they somewhat or strongly supported it, while only 22% said they were somewhat or strongly opposed.
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%
The answers you get always depend on the questions you ask, and the R‑90 ballot title isn’t the best description of the issue, so it’s not surprising that the ballot title doesn’t get the same enthusiastic response. However, if just half of the “not sure” voters join the “Approved” camp, Safe & Healthy Youth Washington would still win by a huge spread of about twenty points — an electoral landslide.
It’s interesting that the percentage of respondents who said they were not sure after having been read the ballot title this month is the same percentage of respondents who said they were not sure a year ago, when we asked about support for comprehensive sexual health education using our own wording.
Should Referendum 90 be approved next month, as it appears it will be, the law will go into effect. Many school districts in Washington State already teach comprehensive sexual health education; those that do not will need to comply with the law. Local school boards will be able to decide what curriculum should be taught, but the chosen curriculum must abide by state standards.
Voting in the 2020 presidential election is currently in progress and is set to conclude on November 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacific in Washington State.