Newsletter: Sex education for K-12

Sex education for K-12: The state parenting your kids

One of the bills that I find most troubling this year is another attempt to mandate Washington’s public schools to teach comprehensive sex education to all grades, including children in kindergarten through the third grade.

What I find most upsetting about Senate Bill 5395 is that it is another attempt by the majority to have the state assume responsibility for raising your children. And it does so with information that moms and dads might feel is beyond their children’s years.

Last year, a version of this bill was pushed through the Senate, but ultimately failed to pass the Legislature because of the concerns of many of my colleagues. This year, the sponsors are giving it another run. I wanted to share my concerns with you.

  • This is an issue that parents should have a chance to review materials and either agree to or reject before the exposing the child to materials.
  • This should be left to local communities to determine, not the Legislature.
  • Sex education is a controversial topic, and this particular bill makes it more so. Not all communities are going to accept having their schools be forced to implement the parts of this bill. What is OK in Seattle might not be OK in Yelm or Enumclaw.
  • We should not mandate comprehensive sex education, especially in a bill that covers so many controversial areas, across all 295 school districts in Washington. Teachers want to focus on the basics of reading, writing and math so our kids are better prepared for higher education.

Even if you disagree with my arguments, it’s important to know that in a recent statewide poll conducted by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, more than 58 percent of parents said they did not want comprehensive sex education in schools. What parents want for their children should matter more than what the state says they should want. I won’t be supporting SB 5395 and I encourage you to read the bill and make up your own mind on the program.

More results from the poll:

  • Should comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically accurate sexual health education be required for all students in grades K-12?
    • 38.3% of respondents said “yes” (3,869 responses)
    • 58.4% of respondents said “no” (5,894 responses)
    • 3.3% of respondents said “not sure” (329 responses)
    • The attached materials include a breakdown of these responses by age, gender, residence, and personal relevance to issue.
  • Are changes needed to current statutes related to sexual health education (e.g., Healthy Youth Act, AIDS Omnibus Act)?
    • 36.6% of respondents said “yes” (3,699 responses)
    • 28.6% of respondents said “no” (2,887 responses)
    • 34.8% of respondents said “not sure” (3,513 responses)
  • How familiar are you with the Washington State K-12 learning standards?
    • 27.1% of respondents said “very” (2,723 responses)
    • 56.2% of respondents said “some” (5,656 responses)
    • 11.6% of respondents said “hardly” (1,167 responses)
    • 5.1% of respondents said “not at all” (513 responses)


Court rulings on I-976 and Sound Transit

This week, a King County judge ruled that I-976, the initiative known as “$30 car-tabs,” is constitutional.

And the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the legislation that gave Sound Transit the authority to tax you for $54 billion is also constitutional. Both rulings emphasize the importance of the Legislature enacting $30 car tabs now.

The lower court’s decision says that the title and subject matter of I-976 are constitutional and not an adequate basis on which to overturn the measure. I-976 passed by more than 70 percent in some counties, but was immediately challenged based on the assertion that voters were confused by the title and subject.

If you voted for it, were YOU confused? I don’t think so. I trust voters knew exactly what they were doing and what message they were sending to legislators.

I have been opposed to the Sound Transit light rail project known as ST3 since it passed in only two of the three counties affected. Pierce County didn’t want it then, and it doesn’t want the exorbitantly high car-tab fees they are paying as a result. No wonder you voted so overwhelmingly for I-976!

You should feel somewhat vindicated by the lower court’s decision. You were not confused by the title or subject of I-976. But that isn’t stopping one legislator across the aisle from sponsoring Senate Bill 6606, which would repeal I-976 entirely. We need to listen to the people and enact I-976 now.

The higher court’s decision is disappointing, but it does show how important it is for the Legislature to enact $30 car-tab fees, just as taxpayers demanded in the November. Undermining your wishes is the wrong path for the Legislature. We work for you. More on this issue as it develops.


Honoring 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

This week, the Senate honored the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in a resolution I sponsored. Each woman in the Senate wore a suffragette sash and read a section of Senate Resolution 8670. After we were finished, I proudly shared the story of Victoria Woodhull, who was the first woman to run for President of the United States. And, she did so at a time when she wouldn’t have been able to vote even for herself.

It’s bold women like her that led the way for women to not only vote, but hold public office at all levels of government. I know that I wouldn’t be here in Olympia serving as your Senator if the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement hadn’t managed to get the 19th Amendment ratified. I am proud to be a woman serving the 2nd Legislative District in the Washington State Legislature.

Thank you for allowing me that honor for the past 12 years.

Watch my floor speech honoring Victorial Woodhull. 

You can follow other activities sponsored by the Washington State Historical Society and the Washington State Women’s Commission by logging on to 


Welcome to the Capitol: Morningside and School District Administrators


Thank you to my recent visitors for taking the time to come see me at the Capitol in Olympia!

First, I welcomed a wonderful group from Morningside, which is an organization that helps self-sufficient individuals with disabilities get jobs. I’m so lucky they brought group to see me again this year.

It’s so important for the people to be involved in the legislative process. If you would like to visit me in Olympia, contact my office. 


Next, several school administrators from the following school districts in the 2nd Legislative District came by while they were on campus for the WASA/WSSDA/WASBO meeting.

  • Eatonville School District
  • Rainier School District
  • Yelm Community Schools
  • Bethel School District
  • Orting School District

It’s so important for the people to be involved in the legislative process. If you would like to visit me in Olympia, contact my office. 


Milana Pham pages for the Senate

For the fifth week of the 2020 Legislative Session, Olympia teen Milana Pham served as a page for the Washington State Senate at the Capitol. Milana, 14,  is an eighth grader at St. Michael Parish School.

Milana was an excellent page this week. She learned a lot about the legislative process and made valuable connections while she was here.

The Senate page program provides an opportunity for Washington students to spend a week working at the Legislature. Students transport documents between offices, as well as deliver messages and mail. Pages spend time in the Senate chamber and attend page school to learn about parliamentary procedure and the legislative process. Students also draft their own bills and engage in a mock session.

“Paging was a very rewarding experience,” Milana said. “I had a lot of fun meeting new people and witnessing floor action firsthand.”

Click here for more information on the page program for the Washington State Senate.