by Shane Vander Hart
There is a comprehensive sex education bill under consideration in the Colorado House of Representatives that would significantly erode the rights of parents in the state.
HB 19-1032, sponsored by State Representative Susan Lontine (D-Denver), State Senator Nancy Todd (D-Aurora), and State Senator Don Coram (R-Montrose), would prohibit schools that teach human sexuality from providing abstinence-only sex education or teach gender norms.
The bill also prohibits schools from using federal funds that require schools to teach abstinence-only sex education and would also prevent the State Board of Education from granting any exceptions even to charter schools which have a greater amount of autonomy.
The bill’s authors intend for the bill to be a clarification to human sexuality education law passed in 2013.
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.”
Also, the bill does not require schools that provide human sexuality instruction to discuss pregnancy outcome options, but if they do, they are expected to include abortion, adoption, and parenting as options.
The bill provides for $1 million in the state’s budget for the implementation of comprehensive human sexuality education specifically targeting rural school districts and schoold districts that do not yet provide that instruction.
There are four primary problems with this bill:
The American College of Pediatricians released an updated statement on School-Based Sex Education in the United States last fall that says comprehensive sex education (CSE) in schools has been a failure.
They say CSE programs in America’s schools have failed to demonstrate long-term effectiveness in delaying sexual activity or increasing long-term condom and contraceptive use among sexually active youth.
The statement authored by Stan Weed, Ph.D.; Irene Erikson, Ph.D.; Russell Gombosi, MD; and Michelle Cretella, MD notes the alarming rise in sexually transmitted diseases based on data released in 2018 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed in the United States in 2017, exceeding the previous year’s record high by over 200,000 cases. Comparing data from 2013 to that from 2017, the CDC found chlamydia remained the most common STD, and that 45 percent of the over 1.7 million cases were among 15- to 24-year-old females. Gonorrhea has risen 67 percent over that same time period, and the number of strains resistant to antibiotics is growing rapidly. Similarly, the diagnosis of primary and secondary syphilis, which are the most infectious stages of the disease, increased 76 percent. Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) made up almost 70 percent of those cases.
They note one of the reasons CSE fails is due to the fact it doesn’t target students already involved in risky behavior. They write:
The school-based SRR (CSE) model targets the general teen population, rather than focusing on an individual intervention for those who are actually engaged in the risk behavior. This is a significant difference from the typical risk reduction model. The sexual risk reduction approach should focus on adolescents in school who are already sexually active, but instead is applied to the broader teen population. This sends the false message that “everyone is doing it”, which has the negative effect of normalizing teen sex as an expected standard for all students.
They also note, “The school-based SRR (CSE) model does not seek to move individuals who are engaged in sexual activity toward a renewed risk avoidance (abstinent) behavioral choice, as is true for other risk behavior programs.”
The bill requires schools to teach ideology over empirical biological science. There is no clear definition of what qualifies as “shame-based” language or “gender stereotypes.” The bill prohibits normal biology and compels transgender ideology.
HB 19-1032 claims to exclude endorsing a particular religious tenet. That is not the case, as the requirement to coercively include “the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals” compels public schools to teach LGBT ideology.
The language found in this bill, as well as within SOGI laws nationwide, is used to ban disagreement or discussion on LGBT issues.
This bill effectively codifies SOGI language into the state’s human sexuality education program.
HB 19-1032 does offer a parental opt-out. It states that parents must provide to the school, in writing, their intent to not to have their student participate.
It should offer an opt-in feature instead.
The bill requires schools to notify parents with a “detailed, substantive outline of the topics and materials to be presented during human sexuality instruction.”
However, it is made clear that nothing within the bill requires written notification on “gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or healthy relationships” if it happens outside of human sexuality instruction.
Public school districts have elected school boards and charter schools have boards of directors whose task it is to direct and approve of curriculum that their schools use.
Those are the people who are closest to the students and the most accountable to parents, and HB 19-1032 takes that decision out of their hands and says the state and its educrats know best.
It also prohibits the state board of education, with whom the Colorado Constitution vests the “general supervision of the public schools of the state,” from providing waivers and exemptions.
The Colorado Constitution also states that local school boards “shall have control of instruction in the public schools of their respective districts.”
HB 19-1032 is an unconstitutional attempt by the state to take control of instruction.