State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
- Washington schools are required to teach sex education.
- Curriculum is required to be comprehensive.
- Curriculum must stress abstinence. However, abstinence may not be taught to the exclusion of other materials and instruction on contraceptives and disease prevention.
- Curriculum must be inclusive of all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Curriculum is required to include instruction on affirmative consent.
- Parents or guardians may remove their children from HIV/AIDS prevention education if they have attended an information session about the HIV/AIDS curriculum and its presentation. Parents may also remove their children from the class with written notification. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- Curriculum must be medically accurate.
The Revised Code of Washington, §§ 28A.230.070 requires schools to provide instruction on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), “stress[ing] that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain means for the prevention of the spread or contraction of the AIDS virus through sexual contact.” HIV/AIDS-prevention instruction must be given at least once each school year beginning in fifth grade and must “teach that condoms and other artificial means of birth control are not a certain means of preventing the spread of [AIDS], and reliance on condoms puts a person at risk for exposure to the disease.” Information must be medically accurate. In order to verify medical accuracy, the Washington Department of Health Office on HIV/AIDS must review and approve all HIV/AIDS curricula and supporting materials. Health education that includes instruction on “methods to prevent exposure to and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)” is also required by Revised Code of Washington §§ 28A.230.020.
The Revised Code of Washington, § 28A.300.475, known as the Healthy Youth Act, was amended in 2020 to require every Washington public school to provide comprehensive sex education. In addition to the previous mandate that required curriculum to be medically and scientifically accurate and age-appropriate, curriculum must now be inclusive of all students, regardless of their protected class under chapter 49.60 of the Revised Code of Washington. Curriculum is also required to include instruction on affirmative consent and bystander training. Comprehensive sex education must be provided once to students in kindergarten through grade three, once to students in grades 4-5, twice to students in grades 6-8, and twice to students in 9-12. Parents or guardians may remove their children from HIV/AIDS-prevention education if they have attended an information session about the HIV/AIDS curriculum and its presentation. If a school district chooses to provide sex education, parents may also remove their children from the class with written notification. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
State Profiles provided by SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change. For more information regarding your state’s sex ed policy, visit https://siecus.org/state_profile/washington-state-profile/