OLYMPIA, Wash. — A bill that would mandate sex education in all Washington public schools starting in kindergarten is headed to Governor Jay Inslee's desk.
However, state superintendent Chris Reykdal said fears over lessons about the 'birds and bees' being taught to kindergartners under new state law are not true.
"It's going to have nothing to do with reproduction," Reykdal said.
Those against the bill said it's not right to expose younger kids to sex education.
"I'm offended at the pornography that we're going to be forced to teach our children," said Rep. Robert Sutherland (R-Snohomish County), as he spoke to the house. "I'm offended at what this government is doing to the parents out there."
Supporters said that younger kids need to learn about their bodies and rights and that it is important for kids to understand that if someone touches them and they don't want it, they can say no.
"I can't even tell you the suffering that was going on in my family for generations," said Rep. Amy Walen (D-Kirkland). "For all the kids who don't have such healthy families, those are the ones that it is our ultimate responsibility to watch out for."
Opponents said that not all children are ready to learn about these topics.
"Do we really think that these types of concepts are going to have people going through consent methods and the boys listening when their hormones are raging because of what they are learning?" said Rep. Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver). "Will they really hear no? Will they really stop? I doubt it."
According to the legislation, kindergartners would be taught the differences between boys' and girls' bodies and that there are many ways to express gender.
Older students would learn about LGBTQ issues, contraception, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual consent.
Individual districts would be able to determine how much is taught as long as they follow the state's minimum standards.
Parents would also be able to decide to opt-out of the program.
"What we don't have time for is to continue with statistics that have continued for years, because we are too afraid to teach anything in our schools and so as a result of that one in four girls get raped by the time they're a senior in high school," said Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (D-Mukilteo).
The bill received its final approval Saturday from the Washington State Senate.
There has been much debate over the bill this week, and there's even a push to get the Governor to veto the bill.
Of the 1,200 adults who participated in a King 5 News poll, 63% said sex education should be required in public schools. The remainder said it should not be required (26%) or were not sure (11%).