The Colorado House has passed a controversial bill requiring schools that offer sex education classes to either teach gay and lesbian issues and not focus on abstinence-only programs — or to provide no instruction on sexuality at all.
The “Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education bill,” or HB1032, passed on a 39-23 vote on Tuesday, with one Democrat, Rep. Don Valdez of La Jara, voting “no” with the Republicans.
The legislation, which is backed by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, would not require schools to teach sex education — but those that do could no longer offer “abstinence-only” curriculum. Instead, classes must focus on a wide range of topics, including consent, birth control and pregnancy, prevention of sexually transmitted disease, “healthy relationships” and sexual orientation.
Additionally, a school’s sex-ed curriculum may not include “religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines,” nor could it use “shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools … or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.”
The Colorado legislation would require schools that offer sex education to teach the new curriculum — or refrain from the lessons altogether. It also would repeal a 2013 law which provided exemptions for charter schools to select different sex ed criteria.
Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, one of the bill’s prime sponsors, said she wanted to ensure that all schools that offer sex education courses are following the same rules and are LGBT inclusive, according to The Daily Sentinel.
“When I began to work on this bill over two years ago, my goal was to make sure that what was happening in our schools was what the intent of the 2013 bill expressed,” Lontine said. “That clearly is not happening right now. The 2013 bill was very clear that if you taught sex ed it should be comprehensive, and it should also be LGBT inclusive. That is not the education that our children are getting.”
But opponents argued that the legislation abrogates the rights of parents to direct their children’s education and is a directive from the state about what defines a healthy sexual relationship.
“The spirit of 1032 is not lost on I don’t think anyone, which is the desire to institute in our communities the acceptance of those who struggle with acceptance,” said Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park. “The objections that conservatives have had, that I have had, is primarily that the acceptance is a forced acceptance. Government is force, and so to have a forced acceptance is not a genuine acceptance.”
The bill was the subject of a ten-hour debate in the House Education Committee back in January, with more than 300 Colorado parents, students and faith-based representatives testifying late into the evening.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett