Battle Ground schools seeking volunteers for Sexual Health Education advisory group


The group would help to select sexual health curriculum for grades 5-8, to comply with a new state law

BATTLE GROUND — In the Fall of 2019, Battle Ground schools became center stage in the debate over the role of public education when it comes to what children should know about sex, and when.

The district’s Board of Directors, along with a work group of community members, staff, and administrators, had wrapped up a lengthy process to select a new Comprehensive Sexual Education curriculum for secondary grade levels. It was, they believed, a compromise that avoided some of the more controversial elements of the FLASH curriculum developed in King County, while complying with state requirements.

Jennifer Heine-Withee speaks during a Battle Ground Schools Board of Directors meeting in Oct. 2019, in opposition to the proposed acceptance of a Comprehensive Sexual Health curriculum. File photo
Jennifer Heine-Withee speaks during a Battle Ground Schools Board of Directors meeting in Oct. 2019, in opposition to the proposed acceptance of a Comprehensive Sexual Health curriculum. File photo

After word got out about the planned vote to adopt the curriculum, a number of community members and conservative groups rallied, packing school board meetings and expressing their view that the CSE curriculum amounted to nothing more than an attempt to indoctrinate children with a pro-LGBTQ agenda, and included graphic depictions of sexual activity.

In October, the board responded by eliminating the requirement for CSE, before compromising two months later by changing the seven classes to an elective.

That was done with the understanding that the state legislature was likely to pass a bill the following year, requiring schools to offer the CSE curriculum at all grade levels, which they ultimately did with Senate Bill 5395.

An attempt to overturn that law put Referendum 90 on the ballot last November, but voters statewide ultimately declined to undo what the legislature had done.

That means districts will be required to offer social-emotional learning in K-3 grade levels, and Sexual Health Education beyond that point, with a phase-in starting next school year, and full implementation by the 2022-23 school year.

The CASEE Building, home to Battle Ground Public Schools administration. File photo
The CASEE Building, home to Battle Ground Public Schools administration. File photo

The state provides flexibility in regards to when districts must introduce sexual health education classes, either in fourth or fifth grade.

Battle Ground Public Schools has elected to start offering the CSE curriculum in the fifth grade, and is now beginning the process of evaluating a program for the board to approve.

Volunteers looking to serve on the district’s Sexual Health Community Advisory Group are being asked to fill out a survey by March 3 in order to potentially be selected.

District spokesperson Rita Sanders said they have already gotten a high level of interest from the community. 

The advisory group will be made up of community members, parents, and staff who live in the Battle Ground school district. Selected curriculum must comply with the Washington Health Education Learning Standards, but the district has some leeway in terms of what is taught.

State law does still allow parents to opt their student out of any sexual health instruction.

The committee will meet on Tuesdays, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., starting March 9 and concluding no earlier than May 18. Meetings will be held via Zoom, unless health restrictions allow the resuming of in-person meetings.

If you’re interested in applying to serve on the committee, you’re invited to do so on the Battle Ground Public Schools website.

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