WA Senate Passes Bill Requiring Inclusive Policies In Schools
A bill requiring public school curricula to include the experiences and perspectives of LGBTQ students is headed for the Washington House after passage in the Senate Tuesday night.
The measure directs the Washington State School Directors' Association along with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to formulate policies and procedures that promote inclusive curricula.
School districts would be required to use the policies to incorporate the histories, contributions, and perspectives of historically marginalized and underrepresented groups in school curricula.
Democratic Senator Marko Liias sponsored the bill, and he says an inclusive curriculum benefits all students.
"When we teach the children of Washington using inclusive curriculum, we see better results," said Liias. "When the students and their families who are interacting with the public schools see their lived experiences reflected in the lessons they're learning, they draw more meaning and inspiration from it."
The bill was amended to fold in a measure from Democratic Senator Claire Wilson which sets up a framework for implementing inclusive policies and procedures by creating positions and councils to oversee the process.
Wilson's amendment requires each educational service district to designate a regional inclusive curricula coordinator and specifies that regional coordinators serve on school district instructional materials committees.
It also tasks each educational service district with establishing a regional youth advisory council for inclusive curricula and equity to advise and inform the work of school districts.
East Wenatchee Republican Senator Brad Hawkins voted against the bill after twice trying to chance its language to be optional rather than mandatory.
"While inclusive curriculum may be a very good thing, it may be something that school districts want to implement, we think that the state shouldn't become the state legislative school board and require this on all 295 school districts in the state," said Hawkins.
Hawkins’ first submitted an amendment to change language in the original bill to "allow" rather than "require" the LGBTQ inclusive policies. The word "must" was changed to "may, for example.
After his first amendment failed to pass, Hawkins then submitted another one attempting to make Senator Wilson's additions also optional.
That amendment would have "allowed" instead of "required" educational service districts to designate a regional inclusive curricula coordinator and establish a regional youth advisory council.
An additional amendment from Republican Senator Jim McCune would have required the legislature to approve the procedures formulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to implement inclusive policies. McCune had objected to a lack of oversight from lawmakers, but his amendment was voted down.
The bill passed 29-19 on strict party lines in favor of the Democratic majority.