McCune bills give parents a voice in school curriculum decisions

Bills require curriculum transparency, parental permission for new state-mandated sex-ed course

OLYMPIA – Parents would have a greater voice in what their children are being taught under a pair of bills introduced by Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham, for consideration in the 2022 legislative session. Under Senate Bill 5805, parents and guardians would have to sign permission slips before students participate in controversial new state-mandated sex-education courses. Senate Bill 5806 requires that school districts post curriculum materials online, enabling parental review.

McCune said the bills are a response to parental concerns about the new comprehensive sex-education program mandated by Washington lawmakers during the 2020 legislative session. The new requirement, imposed on school districts statewide, requires students to attend state-mandated sex education courses starting in the 2022-23 school year, unless parents or guardians request their children be excused.

McCune’s legislation places a greater emphasis on parental rights, by requiring written permission from parents and guardians before children attend the new courses. In addition, the curriculum-transparency measure requires that each school district post all core instructional materials online within 14 days of adoption by school boards, and supplemental material must be posted at least 14 days before they are used in a classroom.

“The original legislation was hugely controversial, and after it narrowly passed the Legislature, it was the subject of a statewide referendum,” McCune explained. “With Referendum 90, a majority of voters chose to uphold the law, and our system requires us to respect the decision of the people. Yet we also must note that an enormous minority of voters – 42 percent – voted against this measure. These are matters of fundamental personal belief, and we should respect the rights of the minority just as scrupulously as we do the majority, if not more so.

“The best solution is an informed decision, and this legislation requires that parents make the call. It ensures parents have access to all curriculum materials, so they can see what their children are being taught. The more information people have, the better the choices they will make.”