The current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many lessons, not the least of which is the importance of having scientifically based information upon which to base public policy and education. Our youth in their quest for life education deserve no less.
On Nov. 3, Washington voters will have a chance to approve Referendum 90, the sex education bill that was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor in March of this year. This law requires that all public schools teach age-appropriate, comprehensive sexual health education to K-12 students.
Research has confirmed that young people who have medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education are less likely to experience unintended pregnancy, partake in risky sexual behavior or get a sexually transmitted infection.
Given this information, they are better able to respect personal boundaries, ask for consent and learn how to say and receive a “no.”
R-90 will help prevent and stop sexual assault and rape by giving kids the tools and information they need to communicate with a trusted adult.
In the United States, 29 states and the District of Columbia mandate sex education in public schools, 22 states require that it be medically, factually or technically accurate, but only eight states include components of a comprehensive sex education.
In deciding whether to support R-90, it is important for parents to know that they will be able to view the curricula approved by their local school board and that they will be able to opt their children out of this instruction for a particular grade. Local school boards will have many options when it comes to meeting the required sexual health education curricula.
The vote on R-90 will represent the first time in U.S. history that sex education has ever been decided by a ballot measure. If approved, this law will help keep kids and young adults healthy, prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, teach consent and help youth stay safe from abuse.
Washington voters should study this measure carefully and vote to give our children the healthy and safe future they deserve.
Marshall F. Goldberg, M.D., M.P.H