Bill hasn’t escaped contention from conservative groups
A new comprehensive sex education bill, House Bill 19-1032, which resolved in updating the previous 2013 sex education standards, advanced in the Colorado State Senate on Feb. 28 after previously passing the Colorado State House.
The bill itself proposed the following changes from its 2013 predecessor: adding a requirement that Colorado public schools teach kids about consent, removing a waiver for charter schools to opt for the state’s sex ed requirements, and funding a grant program for schools that want to teach sex ed but lack the resources to do so. The bill also requires experiences of LGBTQ Coloradans to be taught in sex education.
The bill’s authors are Democrats Rep. Susan Lontine, Rep. Yadira Caraveo, Sen. Nancy Todd, and Republican Sen. Don Coram, who all originally sent this bill for debate based on a recent Healthy Kids Colorado Survey taken in 2017. The survey found that: “9.6 percent of female students and 18.5 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual youth reported being physically forced into sexual relations against their will.”
The three authors collectively agreed, “These statistics reflect a dire need for all Colorado youth to have access to comprehensive human sexuality education that teaches consent, hallmarks of safe and healthy relationships, self-acceptance, and respect for others.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood called for full support to the bill, while some religious groups opposed the bill. “Public schools would have to promote abortion as an equal option to life, and parents wouldn’t be notified before lessons were presented on gender-identity and sexual orientation,” said Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila in an open letter.
Additionally, Jeff Hays, Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, expressed opposition to the bill, as it would “require sex-ed curriculum in Colorado public schools to conform to radical notions of sexuality and gender, while allowing classes to cover these topics without parents being notified.”
Though this bill addresses sex education in high school, there are resources on the CU Denver campus, like the Women and Gender Center, which advocates for “gender equity and supporting the gender-focused needs of students.”
Jacob McWilliams, Director of the Women and Gender Center, said that while the center has not released a statement on HB 18-1032, “We support approaches to sex education that offer inclusive and comprehensive teaching strategies. Evidence shows that sex ed models that emphasize consent introduce a range of strategies for engaging in safer sexual activity, and integrate inclusive language and inclusive models for what romantic and sexual relationships should look like are far more effective than models that limit or constrain teachers or curricula.”