House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, joined Republican leader Mark Schoesler Monday in announcing the formation of Parents for Safe Schools, a committee committed to asking Gov. Jay Inslee to veto Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5395 or rallying parents to overturn it through a referendum.
ESSB 5395 would require comprehensive sex education in Washington schools beginning in kindergarten.
A petition launched by Parents for Safe Schools March 5 already had 21,455 online signatures by March 8. (The petition can be found at https://bit.ly/335VJS0)
In a press release, state Republicans said the legislation would “force sex-ed curriculum on every school kid in the state from kindergarten through 12th grade. Kindergartners will be encouraged to question the traditional role of genders. In each subsequent grade, the material gets more graphic and more controversial.”
The bill passed on party lines with no Republicans supporting it. ESSB 5395 was sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way. The companion bill HB 1407 was sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver.
Republicans in both chambers asked for amendments to allow parents more control. Democrats rejected almost all of them.
“I am a father and a grandfather. These are young children,” Wilcox said in a press release. “The youngest are still learning to tie their shoes. The state is going to take away parental rights and force a curriculum that is not age appropriate. That is outrageous. Nothing we do in Olympia is more important than protecting our kids. We will fight this with every tool at our disposal.”
“Parents from all over the state have been flooding our offices pleading for more control over teaching their kids sex ed,” Schoesler said. “But Democrats have been determined to cut parents out. Parents are rightfully outraged, I am outraged”.
Inslee has 20 days from the end of session on March 12 to sign or veto the bill.
“In my time in the legislature, I have never seen people so angry about a bill,” Wilcox said. “All across the state, parents have delivered a unified message: don’t get between me and my children. We agree with them.”
If a referendum is needed, 129,811 signatures will need to be gathered by June 10 to get the repeal on the November ballot, the press release noted.
“Democrats need to learn to listen to the people,” Schoesler said. “They did not on car tabs. They did not on race-based quotas. Listen to the people, Governor Inslee. Veto this bill.”