Take my three-question survey on comprehensive sex education

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February 3, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Many people might not realize that most of the bills approved by the Legislature pass with strong bipartisan support. In fact, many of those bills pass unanimously. But sometimes there are controversial and contentious proposals brought to us that result in disagreement and a divided vote. One recent example is Senate Bill 5395, which would require every public school in Washington to provide comprehensive sexual health education to students as young as kindergartners. When these divisions occur, I like to share information about the proposal with you, explain my position, and ask for your feedback.

Sen. Brad Hawkins reviews documents

In addition to my role as Ranking Member of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, I also serve as the elected Deputy Floor Leader for the Republican Caucus. In this photo, I am reviewing proposed amendments before the Senate. During last session’s debate on SB 5395, my proposed amendment – improving the opt-out provision for students – was the only amendment approved.

Why I voted "no" on comprehensive sex education

The Senate voted 28-21 on January 22 to approve SB 5395. While I am not opposed to schools providing elements of responsible sex education, I believe the state should allow the locally-elected officials to decide this issue within their communities and not mandate sex education across all of our 295 school districts. Further, it is unclear to me what would be considered “comprehensive” or “age appropriate” for sex education curriculum, especially to kids as young as kindergarten.

As a former school board member for the North Central Educational Service District and the Eastmont School District, I believe our locally-elected school boards are in the best position to guide important community conversations about sex education instruction and make decisions about curriculum, rather than a top-down approach from Olympia. While our school districts receive the majority of their funding from state dollars, they also receive funding from the federal government and local dollars from voter-approved levies. As such, school districts are separate local government entities and a state mandate of this magnitude, in my opinion, would significantly erode local control as a guiding principle of our school model.

Supporters describe the need for "comprehensive" and "inclusive" curriculum

Proponents of the bill argue that teens are sexually active and should receive important information about pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and AIDS. I certainly agree, but the proposal that was approved in the Senate and is now available to the House of Representatives goes far beyond these seemingly noncontroversial topics. You can read this recent Seattle Times story about the comprehensive sex ed bill, which describes the issue in detail and includes a quote from me. You can also listen to the portion of my interview two weeks ago with KPQ that include discussion of the sex education bill.

SB 5395 first debated during the 2019 session

Last February, the Senate approved the same bill with the same 28-21 vote. During that multi-hour debate, 12 floor amendments were offered prior to the final vote, and all but mine were defeated. My floor amendment would require school districts to grant a parent’s or legal guardian’s request to have his or her child excused from planned instruction in comprehensive sexual health education.

Because SB 5395 failed to receive approval in the House last year, it was returned to the Senate at the end of the 2019 session and, by rule, was available for consideration this year as the Legislature meets for two-year cycles. Senate Democratic leaders chose to hold last week’s vote on SB 5395 to provide the House of Representatives another opportunity to consider the bill. During the first two weeks of this year’s session, my office has received numerous calls and emails on this bill, so I know it is a very important topic both in the 12th District and throughout the state. Because controversial proposals originating in the Senate often undergo changes when they reach the House, requiring the Senate to then consider the House amendments, I want to know your views on this subject in the event that SB 5395 is amended in the House and returned for further consideration by the Senate.

Please take my three-question survey on comprehensive sex education

As your state senator, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to represent you and I value your feedback. It would be helpful to me to hear directly from you about the comprehensive sex education bill. Please take a moment to answer this short survey and offer comments if you wish. I appreciate your feedback.

Please click here to take the survey. Your answers will be anonymous.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state senator.



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District
E-mail: brad.hawkins@leg.wa.gov 

Website: senatorbradhawkins.org

107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000