DENVER. The Colorado Catholic Conference, the legislative arm of Colorado’s four bishops, is urging opposition to a bill introduced in the Colorado General Assembly that would govern sex education in public and charter schools.
HB19 1032 would mandate “comprehensive human sexuality education” and prohibit schools from using sex education programs that only teach abstinence to avoid pregnancy. It would also mandate that abortion be presented as an equal option to life.
“The Colorado Catholic Conference believes that this bill further compromises the ability of local school districts to maintain a system of local control that allows communities and school districts to determine content standards for comprehensive human sexuality education,” read a statement issued by the conference on Feb. 12.
“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; these groups are the best resources to govern what values and standards should be reflected in this type of instruction. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and education policy must be crafted in a manner that places the needs of children and parents first.”
A hearing conducted by the House of Representatives’ Health and Insurance Committee on Jan. 30 drew hundreds of people to the State Capitol to testify both in favor of and against the bill and lasted late into the evening. However, the bill passed out of both that committee and the House Appropriations Committee and, as of Feb. 12, was headed to the House Floor for debate and discussion. Key sponsors are Democratic Representative Susan Lontine, Democratic Senator Nancy Todd and Republican Senator Don Coram.
The Colorado Catholic Conference identified several key problems with the bill, including:
• If pregnancy outcomes are covered, abortion and life must be presented as equal options.
• The “age-appropriateness” of the curriculum is vague and the actual content of the curriculum is undefined.
• Cannot teach abstinence as the primary or sole acceptable preventative method.
• “Healthy relationships” are defined by the state, not by parents.
• Creates a loophole where programming on gender, gender expression and sexual orientation can be taught outside of the human sexuality instruction without notification provided to parents.
• Charter schools may not apply for a waiver.
Catholics are urged to contact their state representatives and urge them to vote “no” on the bill. Visit www.cocatholicconference.org/oppose-hb19-1032-concerning-comprehensive-human-sexuality-education/for more information and links for sending a message to one’s representative.
(The Denver Catholic contributed to this story.)