The Washington state Senate has passed legislation that requires public schools to include instruction on the contributions and perspectives of LGBTQ+ individuals in their curricula.
Senate Bill 5462 was passed with a predominantly partisan vote after a short floor debate. Democrats argued that it is crucial for LGBTQ+ students to be aware of the groundbreaking LGBTQ+ figures. Republicans, on the other hand, argued that this objective can be accomplished without a mandate from the state.
“We must ensure that we share the narratives of the individuals who have been instrumental in driving the advancements we have achieved,” emphasized Senator Marko Liias, a member of the LGBTQ+ community and the primary sponsor of the bill, representing Edmonds.
“We are among the trailblazers in this room, and our state holds a similar distinction. It is crucial for us to recount these remarkable narratives,” he emphasized. “This legislation, if passed, will ensure that our public schools are equipped to do just that.”
Senator Brad Hawkins, a former school board member from East Wenatchee, expressed his opposition.
“Here we go again,” exclaimed the frustrated individual. “The Washington State Senate is transforming into the Washington State Senate School Board once more.”
Adopting the model curricula envisioned in the legislation is acceptable for a school district, according to him. However, he strongly believes that it is wrong for the Legislature to impose the policy on all 295 districts statewide, referring to it as “force feeding”.
The bill was passed with a vote of 29-19, with the sole opposition coming from Republicans. Senate Minority Leader John Braun, a Republican from Centralia, admitted that it was a mistake on his part as he voted in favor of the bill. He acknowledged his error, but unfortunately, it was too late for him to rectify his vote on the floor.
Last year, the same bill was passed by the majority Democrats with a similar margin.
By the 2025-26 school year, the legislation mandates that LGBTQ+ contributions must be included in the curriculum of public, tribal-state compact, and charter schools throughout the state.
By December 1st, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, in collaboration with the Washington state LGBTQ Commission, is required to review and revise the current state learning standards at all grade levels. The aim is to incorporate the contributions and perspectives of LGBTQ+ individuals.
The Washington State School Directors’ Association, in collaboration with OSPI, must develop a model policy and procedure for designing courses and selecting materials for use in classrooms by June 1, 2025.
Schools must incorporate the elements of the model policy by October 1, 2025.
The bill also mandates that educational service districts appoint an “inclusive curricula coordinator” to support school districts in meeting the new mandates. The legislation specifically states that these coordinators must ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are integrated throughout the curricula, rather than being treated as separate subjects.
Liias and Senator Jamie Pedersen, a prominent advocate for marriage equality, stated that there is evidence suggesting that the inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals in the curriculum can positively impact the academic achievement and mental well-being of LGBTQ+ students.
According to Pedersen, the children are the main recipients of this bill’s benefits.
Hawkins and Senator Jim McCune, a Republican from Graham, expressed their concern over the mandated curricula, arguing that it undermines the authority of school boards to make decisions regarding instructional methods at the local level. They believe that such a mandate could lead to division within communities and potentially result in parents withdrawing their children from public schools.
McCune expressed concern that this bill would actually compel parents to leave.
The fate of Senate Bill 5462 now rests in the hands of the House, after it failed to pass in the education committee during the previous session.
The Washington State Senate is advocating for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ history and perspectives in the curriculum of public schools, as reported by the Washington State Standard.