There has been lots of conversation on House Bill 19-1032, Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education. I have been asked, why in the world would you sponsor such a bill?
The answer is simple math: 33, 18 and 1. It takes 33 votes to pass a bill out of the House, Democrats have 41. It takes 18 votes to pass a bill out of the Senate. Democrats have 19. It takes one governor to sign, and he is also a Democrat. Thus, if I want to help craft a bill that protects Colorado statute, religious views, parental rights, school districts and local control, it is best served if I am at the table.
Let me answer some of the questions that have arisen.
Does this bill require districts to teach kids about gay sex? No. It requires districts that choose to teach sex ed that they ensure all students, including LGBTQ students, learn about condoms, HIV and STDs, healthy relationships, etc.
Does this bill require districts to teach kids about abortion? No. It requires districts that choose to teach students about pregnancy outcomes that they include conversations about all possible options, including adoption, safe abortions, safe haven laws and parenting.
Do schools and districts need to teach sex ed? Not at all. But if they do, it needs to be complete and medically accurate.
Does this bill prohibit schools from talking about abstinence? No. In fact, abstinence is a required component of complete sex ed.
Does this bill require that toddlers be taught sex ed? No. This bill requires all sex ed to be age-appropriate. That means before a student reaches fourth grade, they only receive health education related to “personal hygiene, healthy habits, healthy emotional expression, positive self-concept and respect of others, healthy relationships with adults and peers, respecting personal space and boundaries, interpersonal communication skills and personal safety.” Comprehensive sex ed that includes information about abstinence, birth control, STD prevention, sexual orientation and consent is for older students.
Isn’t this an unfunded mandate? No. It does not mandate that any school teach sex ed. For those that choose to, it offers state funding opportunities.
Current law provides for a comprehensive human sexuality education grant program. This bill clarifies previous legislation already passed.
In addition, in 2009, the Colorado State Board of Education adopted comprehensive academic content standards and health education standards. In 2018, the Colorado State Board of Education adopted academic content standards for comprehensive health education, including physical and personal wellness, social and emotional wellness, and prevention and risk management. However, it is not mandated.
It is imperative that we clarify that this is not a mandate. School districts are not required to teach sex ed, but if a district chooses to teach sex ed, anything but comprehensive sex ed is a violation of state law. I repeat, a school district is not required to teach sex ed. In a district that chooses to teach sex ed, a parent shall have the option to withdraw their child from any such class. To be truly comprehensive it should not stigmatize or shame those against what their home and religion teaches as norms.
Please note that this bill is still working its way through the other chamber and our chance to amend the bill is yet to come. So please stay tuned.
I want to offer my sincere gratitude to those who have called me personally to discuss the bill. It is disappointing that others chose to ridicule and speculate as to my reason for sponsoring this bill, many of whom espouse the Christian principle of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Don Coram represents State Senate District 6.