How the new proposed sex education bill affects public and charter schools

By Autumn Leopold

The Surveyor

The sponsors of the bill include Democrat Representative Susan Lontine, Democrat Senator Nancy Todd (a retired teacher), and Republican Senator Don Coram.

The controversy surrounding this bill is mainly between the proponents of this bill and parents who have children in public or public charter schools who had opted out of the comprehensive sex education curriculum. Charter schools are funded by the government and accountable to the government body whether state, county or district, that provides the charter. Most public schools have already been teaching comprehensive sex educations since 2013 when Colorado passed HB 1081, which banned abstinence-only sex education. Since then public charter schools have been able to obtain waivers by the state board of education to teach their own version of comprehensive sex education which emphasizes abstinence. If this new bill passes General Assembly, the 2013 law would be amended by removing the waiver offered to public charter schools to teach their own version of comprehensive sex education. The new bill mandates to school districts that if you teach sex-education you must include “medically accurate information about all preventive methods to avoid unintended pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS ”and allow students to “to decide for themselves which preventative methods are best suited for their individual needs, beliefs and values.”

The bill further provides that teachers must instruct on FDA approved methods of contraception including permanent sterilization, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC), contraceptive injection, short-acting hormonal methods, barrier methods and emergency contraception. Abortion is not an FDA-approved method of birth control. However, the bill instructs teachers to teach about abortion only if pregnancy outcomes are brought up. The bill states: “Comprehensive human sexuality does not require instruction on pregnancy outcome options. However if a public school opts to provide instruction on pregnancy outcomes the instruction must cover all pregnancy options including but not limited to adoption, abortion and parenting. Instruction on pregnancy outcome options must be provided in an objective unbiased manner must not endorse or favor one or more pregnancy options.”

On the issue of notification, under this bill parents will still receive notification when sex education is about to be taught and will have the option to exclude the child from the material. However, parents won’t receive notification before courses about other sexual topics outside the scope of sexual education. According to the bill: “Nothing in this section requires written notification for programming on gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or healthy relationships that occur outside the context of human sexuality instruction.”

A grant program will also be funded by this bill for schools that lack the resources to teach sex education and to further expand upon the sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender relationships, portions of the curriculum requirements.

On Jan. 31, after 10 hours of testimony, HB19-1032 the Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education Bill was sent to the House Appropriations Committee.

A condensed summary of the HB19-1032 follows: “The bill clarifies content requirements for public schools that offer comprehensive human sexuality education and prohibits instruction from explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.”

You can stay updated about this bill by visiting the Colorado General Assembly’s website and searching for HB19-1032 or if online, visit this link: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1032

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