Late last night, a bill to overhaul how sex education is taught in public schools advanced in the Colorado House of Representatives. H.B. 19-1032 passed a House committee on a 7-4 vote. The bill would ban abstinence-only sex education and amend state standards to accommodate comprehensive sex education, including awareness of HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ identities, and consent.
The Capitol was packed with vocal supporters and opponents of the bill during the committee meeting. Testimony came from teachers, parents, and students. In the aftermath, many citizens and policymakers took to social media to voice their support further.
I voted yes because I believe that every Colorado student deserves access to accurate, unbiased information about their health and wellbeing. Surveys show that parents overwhelmingly favor comprehensive education regardless of party. I want what's best for CO students #HB1032
— Janet Buckner (@repjanetbuckner) January 31, 2019
A great deal of the testimony against #HB1032 I’ve heard today is mean spirited, and meant to target LGBTQ people and kids. If you used #coleg — the people’s building — to put down LGBTQ people in the name of religion today, shame on you. #copolitics
— Pourshoushtari (@davidkpoursh) January 31, 2019
— Adam Gaylord ❤'s 🤖☕🛏🍪🥃 (@AuthorGaylord) January 31, 2019
Currently, sex ed is required to be “comprehensive” when given in public schools, but it is loosely defined and not mandatory on a state level. Individual schools can waive state standards to teach abstinence-only sex ed, and parents can opt their children out. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, “comprehensive” does not include information on HIV/AIDS or consent in Colorado.
The new bill clarifies and expands on what “comprehensive” means 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.”
The House Health & Insurance Committee’s decision was split down partisan lines, all supporters democrats and opponents republicans. The bill now passes to the House Appropriations Committee for further debate before the entire House votes on it.
Both chambers of the state General Assembly, House, and Senate are majority democrat. Governor Jared Polis, as a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights and a gay married man with children, is expected to sign the bill. If passed, H.B.1032 would be a significant victory for LGBTQ children and educators as well as for public health.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons