Serving Franklin County, WA

Voters should reject R-90, support Espinoza

Olympia is clearly out of touch with Eastern Washington, and you won’t have to look any further than your ballot to figure that out.

In addition to the East versus West gubernatorial battle, you’ll find Referendum 90, pitting many rural parents against a few city-based lawmakers and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal over the measure.

Referendum 90 targets Senate Bill 5395, a so-called “comprehensive” and “inclusive” sexual education curriculum being mandated by those in Olympia.

For the last few years, a version of that bill has been pushed by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way, who essentially lost her seat on the Federal Way School Board over her efforts to normalize alternative sexual intimacy among students.

Last year’s bill was pulled after parents turned out to boisterously oppose the idea of adding alternative- intimacy to sex ed classes. Earlier this year, however, Wilson was able to push through Senate Bill 5395 on a strictly party-line vote behind closed doors.

The bill, which was supposed to go into effect this year, requires the new sex curriculum to be taught to students as young as kindergarteners. In addition to health-related subjects, the mandated curriculum requires alternative-lifestyle intimacy be included.

Objecting parents have dubbed the measure the “SeXXX Ed” bill, calling the curriculum obscene and inappropriate. They’ve also noted that it’s the first curriculum the state will completely manage, meaning local school boards will not be able to alter the instruction when directed to do so by their constituency.

One parent, Maia Espinoza, decided to challenge Reykdal for his elected state superintendent position over the subject because of his staunch support of the new curriculum. She even accused him of support of teaching “sexual positions to 4th graders” in the state voters guide.

Reykdal sued Espinoza over her published comments, but he lost. The state Supreme Court sided with Espinoza, affirming that she did not defame him in that statement.

But as the election heated up over this issue, Reykdal ordered schools to suspend implementation, at least until the ballots have been counted. If the sex ed curriculum was so important to our youth, why suspend it?

The answer is the sexual curriculum is not necessary and not appropriate, and Reykdal knows it.

In the best interest of local school boards, parents and especially children, we believe it’s time for Reykdal’s superintendent reign to end. We endorse Espinoza.

Furthermore, we believe local school boards should have the final say on sex ed in our small towns, especially when the curriculum is graphic. Since a vote to reject the referendum is a vote to reject the new sexual ed mandates, we encourage you to reject R-90.

– Our View is the opinion of the Free Press Publishing editorial board. The board comprises Davenport Times Editor Jamie Henneman, Odessa Record Editor Terrie Schmidt-Crosby, Ritzville Adams County Journal Editor Katie Teachout, Whitman County Editor Bill Stevenson and Publisher Roger Harnack.


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