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The Camasonian

Junior Sex-Ed Leaves Students Pondering

A handout from a sexual education lesson going over sexual hygiene.

Camas High School (CHS) juniors recently completed a three-lesson course; a continuation of the mandatory sexual education class, but many still wonder why the class was necessary at all. 

“In 2020, the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill 5395, [requiring] all public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education to all students,” CHS health teacher Jacob Howell said.

Jacob Howell, a CHS health teacher who taught many of the junior sexual education classes

The bill went into effect in 2022, and CHS was required to expand its sexual health program and provide new education for its juniors. Since the bill requires at least two learning opportunities for students in public schools, CHS created a new series of lessons for juniors to be taken during scheduled times during English class. 

“Junior level was picked so that students would have a year break in sexual health curriculum from ninth grade and English class was picked because it was the only class [besides history] we could guarantee that all juniors are going to have,” Howell said. 

The purpose of the new classes, rather than teaching sexual anatomy and STD protection (topics well covered in ninth-grade health classes), is to cover some of the social and emotional aspects of sexual and romantic relationships. 

“[We created] three individual lessons, spread out [over three weeks and occurring] every Wednesday,” Howell explained. “The topics are; how to take care of your body, because not everyone gets that information from their parents or accurate information from the internet; understanding consent, what that is and what that isn’t; and how to spot and help somebody who is in an…abusive relationship,” Howell said. 

This content was chosen because it is relatively uncontroversial, meaning it can be put into effect without much parent opposition, and it covers meaningful topics that are prone to a lot of misunderstanding and confusion for older high school students. 

“We’ve chosen topics that are relatable for our students… right now, we’re not talking about birth control, we’re talking about more mature topics [concerning romantic relationships] that maybe aren’t as relevant when you’re 14 or 15, and it presents some new perspectives and opportunities for learning,” Howell said.

Some CHS students have expressed satisfaction with the topics and discussions and their coverage of topics that the school is usually quiet about.

“I feel like it’s really important to finally have these lessons about issues like consent and relationships, I think a lot of people at Camas need to hear about it,” junior Avery Repman said.

Other students, however, are not satisfied with junior sexual education.

“We already covered sex-ed when we were freshmen, and these new lessons are really self-explanatory and simple,” junior Keagan Emberlin said. “It felt like a huge waste of time,”

The lessons, now over, have had varied effects on students, generating both positive and negative responses. While district officials have some control over the content, they cannot

remove the program, and thus future junior classes will have to take sexual education in years to come.

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James Beck
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