Election day is over, and one particular measure will affect students and health teachers all across Washington state for years to come. Referendum 90 is a ballot measure that was approved on November 3, 2020, by Washington state voters. R-90 requires all schools to provide Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) by the 2022-2023 school year. The new measure also requires grades kindergarten through third to focus on social-emotional learning. (SEL).
The measure specifically focuses on respectful communication, healthy relationships, respecting personal space, and managing emotions. No sexuality content is taught in grades K-3 under this bill. For grades four through twelve, sex-ed must include how the body and mind develop and change in response to a stimulus, how to communicate respectfully with each other, how to develop healthy relationships free from manipulation and coercion with a focus on consent. In addition, students will learn about the resources available to them if a relationship gets violent and about contraception for unintended pregnancy.
If parents do not want their children involved in the curriculum, they can opt-out for some or all of it.
At Camas middle schools, sex-ed is taught twice during sixth and eighth grade, and once at the high school in ninth grade health. Under this bill, high school students are required to participate at least twice between ninth and twelfth grade.
This acceptance of this measure is very controversial in the Camas community. Many people think this information has no place in schools and should be delivered at home by parents.
Camas High School Junior Daniel Lee said, “I think having more comprehensive sex-ed is good because it’s something that is important for young teenagers to know about. Although it may be awkward for students, it is a big part of becoming mature so I support it.”
CHS Senior Isabella Ross said, “R-90 is a crucial part of being well educated on how to protect yourself and others and to be safe about sex overall. If people are educated about sexual health STI rates will drop, along with underage pregnancy, and abortions. The more we understand our bodies and sex, a natural part of being human, the benefits of education will follow. It’s more important to me because I know I want to have access to reliable educational resources to learn about safe sex, and my peers have access to that information as well so everyone can make educated decisions for themselves.”
Camas School District Assistant Superintendent Lisa Greseth provided some insight into how the measure will affect all grades.
Greseth said, “What we know is that research shows many benefits from comprehensive sexual health education, like improved knowledge, attitudes, and outcomes connected to healthy relationships. It also shows that sexual health education can help to prevent sexual abuse and violence. These are such important outcomes!”
Camasonian journalists Isabelle Domenech and Josh Fernando contributed to this article.