An op-ed written by Rev. Yvonne Agduyeng (she/her), Pastor of Seattle First United Methodist Church.
As a pastor, I will always advocate for the safety and health of young people, which is why I strongly encourage you to vote to approve Referendum 90.
My faith tradition calls me to nurture loving relationships and I believe that a vote to approve R-90 will foster safe and effective spaces for youth to access information and learn about healthy relationships.
On the November ballot, R-90 asks voters to approve or reject Washington Senate Bill 5395. Approved by the legislature and signed into law by the governor last year, SB 5395 would require comprehensive sexual health education in public schools. A vote to approve Referendum 90 would ultimately allow SB 5395 to stand and go into effect.
This law would require all public schools to teach age-appropriate, inclusive, comprehensive sexual health education to K-12 students. Research studies have continually shown that comprehensive sexual health education reduces unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and risky sexual behaviors. Studies have also shown that affirmative consent education helps young people understand and respect personal boundaries.
Approving R-90 will allow parents to opt their children out of comprehensive sexual health instruction and to still have a voice in curriculum planning by their districts. The state does not have a specific curriculum and will approve any science-based, age-appropriate curriculum that meets the law’s guidelines.
I encourage Washington voters to approve R-90, thereby making comprehensive sexual health education mandatory in all public schools. This will ensure that our young people receive sexual health information they need to live safe and healthy lives.