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May 6, 2024

Bills to Protect Coloradans from Gender-Related Crimes, Discrimination in School Passes House

Bills would protect LGBTQ+ community against gender-related bias-motivated crimes, place Colorado in compliance with state Title IX

DENVER, CO – The House today passed bipartisan legislation to better protect Coloradans from gender-related, bias-motivated crimes. SB24-189, which passed by a vote of 45-17, would add transgender identity to Colorado’s bias-motivated crimes and harassment laws.

The House also passed legislation that would better protect students by developing best practices for public schools to effectively respond to reports of harassment or discrimination. SB24-162 passed by a vote of 44-18.

"Sadly hate crimes are on the rise in Colorado and the need for protections for LGBTQ+ Coloradans is very clear," said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, sponsor of SB24-189. "This legislation bolsters protections for our transgender community by clarifying transgender identity as a protected class in our bias crime laws.  We are working hard to protect all Coloradans from crimes that target them just because of who they are."

SB24-189, also sponsored by Matt Soper, R-Delta, would improve protections for Coloradans by adding the definition of transgender identity to the protected classes included in Colorado’s bias-motivated crimes and harassment laws. The bill also updates the definition of "sexual orientation" as used in Colorado’s bias-motivated crimes and harassment statutes.

This important legislation comes on the heels of recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which revealed the highest number of anti-LGBTQ+, anti-trans and gender non-conforming hate crimes ever reported. Additionally, the number of hate crimes based on gender identity increased by over 32 percent from 2021 to 2022.

SB24-162 would require the Department of Education to partner with an organization to develop best practices and training related to discrimination and harassment in public schools, including protocols relating to notifying students and parents about school policies and procedures, and implementing trauma-informed responses. Additionally, the department would provide harassment and discrimination training program materials for schools.

“Our educators know that creating a safe place to learn is important for the education of our students, but they need professional training to provide effective, trauma-informed responses,” said Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, sponsor of SB24-162. “Per the request of our schools and educators, we’re building upon our work last year to ensure schools and educators have the professional resources they need to support our youth against harassment and discrimination.”

“Too many students have experienced harassment, racism, and sexism in school, and we must ensure that their classrooms are a safe and accepting learning environment,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, sponsor of SB24-162. “Last year, we passed SB23-296 to clearly define what is considered harassment and discrimination in Colorado’s K-12 public schools. This new legislation aims to build on this law to create a stronger framework for harassment and discrimination policies to better protect students in every corner of our state.”

Signed into law in 2023 and sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon and Representative Leslie Herod, SB23-296 provides clear definitions for harassment and discrimination in K-12 public schools and requires schools to post notices describing how a student can report harassment or discrimination to the school. The law further requires schools to adopt procedures for investigating reports of harassment or discrimination and to grant an excused absence to a student for certain out-of-school appointments related to the student experiencing harassment or discrimination.

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