BILL REQ. #: H-0703.1
|State of Washington||59th Legislature||2005 Regular Session|
Read first time 01/19/2005. Referred to Committee on Health Care.
AN ACT Relating to sexual health education; adding a new section to chapter 70.24 RCW; and creating new sections.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1 The legislature finds that it is a public
health priority for young people to acquire the knowledge and skills
necessary to make responsible, fully informed decisions about their
sexual health. The legislature also finds that recent declines in the
rate of pregnancies and some sexually transmitted diseases can be
associated with the success of comprehensive, medically accurate, and
age-appropriate sexual health education. Despite these gains, youth in
Washington are confronted by the realities of high rates of teenage
pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection.
These diseases can have lifelong consequences, including infertility
and HPV-associated cancer, and are frequently asymptomatic, creating a
silent epidemic among youth in our state. The state has a duty to
ensure that young people are equipped with the comprehensive, medically
accurate, age-appropriate information that they need to protect
themselves from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases,
including HIV infection. The best approach to protecting youth in this
environment is to support the resources that they trust and to ensure
that young people have as much accurate, objective information about
sexual health as possible.
Young people rely upon many educational resources for obtaining information about sexual health. The cornerstone of this education is at home with parents and guardians. These responsibilities also extend to schools, peers, religious organizations, and other community groups. These entities must work together to equip young people with the sexual health information that they will need to make responsible decisions throughout their lives. This information must emphasize the effectiveness of abstinence from sexual activities as well as the wide range of other methods for preventing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection.
The standards offered by the January 2005 guidelines for sexual health information and disease prevention of the department of health and the office of the superintendent of public instruction are a fundamental tool when designing sexual health education. These guidelines will be used to guide teachers, guest speakers, and school districts with the design of their sexual health education and may also be helpful to guide health and counseling providers, community groups, and parents and guardians to better meet the needs of the communities that they serve.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2 A new section is added to chapter 70.24 RCW
to read as follows:
(1) Every school district that offers sexual health education must incorporate the January 2005 guidelines for sexual health information and disease prevention of the department of health and the office of the superintendent of public instruction. Every school district that offers sexual health education must emphasize abstinence, as required by RCW 70.24.210, except that abstinence may not be taught to the exclusion of other methods of preventing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection. In addition to abstinence, sexual health education must teach medically accurate information about the effectiveness of contraceptives and other family planning options in a comprehensive manner.
(2) Instruction and materials shall be age-appropriate and appropriate for use with students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds and students with disabilities.
(3) Within available resources, the superintendent of public instruction and the department of health shall make the January 2005 guidelines for sexual health information and disease prevention and any related model policies, curricula, or other technical assistance resources available to teachers, health and counseling providers, community groups, and parents and guardians.
(4) The department shall adopt such rules as are necessary to determine what is medically accurate information according to the research conducted in compliance with scientific methods and published in peer-review journals.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3 This act may be known and cited as the
healthy youth act of 2005.