Colorado sex education bill: Separating fact from fiction

Proposed changes to state requirements for sex education classes taught in public schools struck a nerve with religious groups that flooded the Colorado Capitol late last month.

A 10-hour House committee hearing on the bill stretched late into the night and included hours of heated, sometimes graphic allegations that the language of the legislation promoted abortion, banned religious viewpoints and allowed for the teaching of sexual positions to children as young as 9 years old.

After passing the Democrat-controlled House on a series of party-line votes, the bill faces its next test this week in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrower majority.

Its first Senate hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Health and Human Services Committee.

Before the second round of public testimony begins, The Denver Post sorted through several claims made in the debate over sexual education in Colorado.

What does House Bill 19-1032 do?

The bill updates a 2013 comprehensive sex education law in three significant ways:

  • It adds a requirement that Colorado public schools teach kids about consent.
  • It removes a waiver for charter schools to opt of the state’s sex ed requirements.
  • It funds a grant program for schools that want to teach sex ed but lack the resources to do so.

Does the bill ban school districts from teaching an abstinence-only or abstinence-focused sex education curriculum?

Yes and no. Colorado lawmakers told public schools back in 2013 that they couldn’t teach abstinence-only sex education. However, that law did let charter schools request waivers from the state Board of Education to teach their own version of comprehensive sex education. This bill would remove that option. One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, estimated that about five or six schools use this exemption.