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Inslee signs controversial LGBTQ school curriculum bill into law

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(The Center Square) – Public schools in Washington state will be required to update curriculum to include LGBTQ histories and perspectives under a new law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday.

Senate Bill 5462 requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to incorporate “the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion” in new or revised learning standards.

“The contributions of gay Washingtonians deserve recognition, and just as importantly, students deserve to see themselves in their schoolwork,” said the bill’s prime sponsor Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, in a same day news release. “That leads to better attendance, better academic achievement and better overall quality of life, ensuring success for all our students.”

Vienna Pham testified in support of the bill during a February public hearing.

The Lake Washington High School student said that, as a Vietnamese American, she understands the importance of inclusivity in education.

“Like many students with minority backgrounds, I have often felt invisible in the classroom due to the lack of representation of my culture,” she said.

Concerned citizen Gabriel Jacobs spoke in opposition to the bill during the same hearing.

“You may not be aware that members of the [Washington State] LGBTQ Commission are advocates for legalizing sex work and this bill requires them to collaborate with OSPI to set histories, perspectives, etc.,” he said. “We should not be writing legislation that mandate that those who advocate for legalized sex work consult with OSPI on kindergarten education criteria.”

The Center Square reached out to the Washington State LGBTQ Commission for comment, but did not receive a reply.

Trish Huddleston testified against the bill at the February hearing. As a member of the Woodland School Board, she said this was another attack on local control.

“There are no educational standards in this bill,” she said. “I would prefer we see those and have a chance to provide feedback before this becomes law.”

She said the state already requires choosing a curriculum that removes bias and includes marginalized communities in classroom materials.

Other school district officials raised concerns about being forced to replace curriculum that is working well for them, when budgets are already strapped.

SB 5462 says that by June 2025, the Washington State School Directors’ Association and OSPI must develop a model policy that require school boards to adopt age-appropriate and instructional materials that recognize the history and contributions of LGBTQ individuals.

The law requires OSPI to post a revision of learning standards on its website by September 2025, and requires schools to amend and conform with the model policies by October 2025.

The signing of SB 5462 comes after the Legislature’s passage of Initiative 2081 this session.

I-2018, known as the “parents’ bill of rights,” requires school materials – textbooks, curriculum, a child’s medical records – to be easily available for parents to review. It also lets parents opt their children out of assignments related to students’ sexual experiences or the family’s religious or political beliefs.

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