Critics claim Colorado sex-ed bill undermines parents

By Kevin J. Jones

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Colorado State Capitol. Credit: J. Stephen Conn (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Opponents of a Colorado sex-ed bill say the legislation would put abstinence-based programs at risk and undermine parents' rights to choose that kind of education for their children in public schools.

Rep. Amy Stephens, a Republican opponent of the bill from Monument, Colo., said support for abstinence education is bipartisan.

“The real truth is eight of 10 Democratic parents, they want their kids taught abstinence,” she said, according to the Denver Post.

The legislation passed the Democrat-controlled state House on a party line vote of 37-28.

The bill, H.B. 1081, only funds “comprehensive” sex-ed programs, excluding abstinence-only education from a grant program within the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

Tammy Borgias, Executive Director of the Colorado-based Center for Relationship Education, told EWTN News Feb. 27 the requirements would “absolutely hurt” funding for abstinence-focused programs.

The proposed legislation funds only programs that automatically enroll public school students, requiring active action from parents to opt out their children.

The bill would repeal current Colorado law on sex education in public schools, which aimed to place “a primary emphasis on abstaining from sexual activity.” It also requires sex ed programs to encourage sexually active students to return to abstinence and to teach the effective use of condoms and other types of contraception.

By contrast, the proposed bill declares that Colorado youth have a right to “medically accurate, culturally sensitive and age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education.”

The bill’s stated standards for “culturally sensitive” sex education includes sensitivity for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.” However, it does not explicitly include sensitivity for religious communities.

The bill sponsor Rep. Christiana Duran, a Democrat from Denver, said that abstinence-only sex ed “hasn’t worked.”

“My gosh, I wish young kids were abstaining from sexual activity but the truth is that is not happening,” she said.

Some opponents of the bill, however, have said it would support education that is inappropriate for children.

The Colorado Catholic Conference has opposed the bill, saying it “severely compromises” local school districts’ control of content standards.

“We believe that local school districts, in conjunction with school boards and parents are the best vehicle to determine what content standards should be adopted for instruction regarding human sexuality,” the conference said in an action alert released in early February.

These groups, it added, “are the best resources to determine what values and standards should be reflected in their local communities’ human sexuality education curriculum.”

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