(Jan. 30) – The House Health and Insurance committee approved Representative Susan Lontine and Representative Yadira Caraveo’s bill to expand the content in the comprehensive sexual education that many students in Colorado already receive. This bill does not require schools to teach sex education, however, it does add consent, defining a healthy relationship, and sexual orientation to the current curriculum.
“Colorado’s students deserve access to age-appropriate, accurate and comprehensive information regarding sex education to keep themselves and their classmates healthy and safe,” said Rep. Lontine, D-Denver.
Colorado cannot have a mandatory sex education requirement. However, there is an existing law that provides a curriculum if school decide to teach about sex education. This bill would increase the ranges of topics to include birth control and pregnancy, abstinence, STD prevention, consent, healthy relationships and sexual orientation.
“This bill would not force schools to provide sexual education, but it would ensure the information provided to students is accurate and comprehensive of the experiences of all Colorado students,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, a pediatrician and co-sponsor of the bill. “In our fast-paced world where my patients grow up quickly and learn sexual education from their peers and other places, this bill would ensure that if their parents can’t provide that information for their students, then students would be able to get that information from their schools.”
Throughout the hearing, a significant amount of misinformation was peddled both by witnesses and members on the other side of the aisle.
“We should do the best we can for Colorado’s students and ensure they have access to important information they need,” said Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, who chaired the hearing.
Some of the common misconceptions were around the opt-out options already in place, the content around the inclusion of LGBTQ inclusion, and the definition of a healthy relationship.
“There was a lot of misinformation today about LGBTQ relationships and the conversations that would take place in a classroom regarding that. As a member of the LGBTQ community who has been in a 14 year relationship, I am pleased to support a bill that addresses safe, healthy relationships,” said Rep. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont. “The bill only expands the curriculum for schools that already offer or wish to offer comprehensive sex ed to include information about more than simply heterosexual relationships.”
“There is no LGBTQ agenda, as some attempted to argue today,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “This bill simply creates a discussion about what is safe, comprehensive sexual education.”
Democrats defeated a number of Republican led amendments, many of which are not germaine.
This bill also allocates $1 million in funds to an existing grant program administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for teaching comprehensive sex education. Rural schools and public schools that do not have the resources to offer sex education will be prioritized for receiving this grant money.
The bill passed through the committee with a 7-4 vote and now heads to the House Appropriations Committee.