Sex Ed Protest

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, stands with his Republican colleagues in unity against Senate Bill 5395 in early March. 

Opponents of Engrossed Substitute Bill 5395, the controversial comprehensive sex education legislation passed last session that would require curriculum starting in kindergarten, had a big win Wednesday as Parents for Safe Schools turned in more than 266,000 signatures in favor of a ballot measure to overturn the law.

The number of required signatures was 129,811, according to a press release from Parents for Safe Schools. Referendum 90, the measure to overturn the legislation, will likely go to a vote of this November.

In a statement on Wednesday, June 10, measure sponsor Mindie Wirth called it “truly a historic achievement.”

“The grassroots and community response to this effort was extraordinary — especially considering the state was essentially closed down at the time,” she said. “Thousands of people across Washington became active after this extreme law was rushed through in the final days of the legislative session. It’s only fair that citizens have the right to vote on it.”

Back in March, as the the coronavirus health crisis was just starting to pick up, scores of parents and state residents converged in protest at the Capitol building shortly after the bill’s passage.

Gov. Jay Inslee later that month signed the legislation into law.

In a press release, Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, pledged to build a coalition in opposition of the referendum if it gets on the November ballot.

"Washingtonians deserve a vigorous campaign in defense of our sorely needed comprehensive sexual health education law," Villeneuve said in a prepared statement. "Knowledge is power, and it's critically important that young people have the information they need to make safe and healthy decisions, no matter what zip code they live in. That's why our state needs ESSB 5395. We are fired up to defend this law on the November 2020 ballot."

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