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Tipsheet

Colorado Considers Sex Education Bill That Could Erode Parental Rights

AP Photo/Nati Harnik

The Colorado legislature is considering a sexual education bill which, if passed, would significantly expand compulsory sexual education in schools across the state.

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HB 19-1032 is sponsored by Representative Susan Lontine (D) and Senators Nancy Todd (D) and Don Coram (R). Titled “Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education”, the bill is considered to be a clarification of Colorado’s current sexual education law, initially passed in 2013.

The controversial new 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.”

The Colorado Catholic Conference, which serves as the public policy arm of the Catholic bishops in Colorado, is one of the groups voicing opposition to the bill.

“The Colorado Catholic Conference believes that this bill further compromises the ability of local school districts to maintain a system of local control that allows communities and school districts to determine content standards for comprehensive human sexuality education,” the conference’s statement read. “Local school districts, in conjunction with school boards and parents are the best vehicle to determine what content standards should be adopted for instruction regarding human sexuality.”

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People aren’t merely concerned about the radical sexual content represented by the bill, however. One of the primary criticisms of HB 19-1032 is related to the autonomy of existing charter schools. This is because the bill “prohibits the state board of education from waiving the content requirements for any public school that provides comprehensive human sexuality education.”

While technically still public schools, charter schools in Colorado have their own respective governing boards, and choose their own curriculums. Historically, these schools have had the ability to apply to the state board of education for waivers exempting them from various state requirements related to curriculum and governance. In order to obtain such a waiver, the school must demonstrate how they will meet the requirement in an alternative way.

But if HB-1032 passes, Colorado charter schools will no longer have that option when it comes to sexual education.

Dr. Robert Garrow is the principal of Golden View Classical Academy, a classical K-12 charter school located in Golden, Colorado. He believes HB-1032 is an attempt to restrict school choice and, ultimately, diminish the rights of parents.

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“Charter schools are free to choose their curriculum,” Garrow noted. “Any bill that proposes limiting that freedom should be exposed for what it is - a bald attempt to deprive parents of their rights. Parents should be able to choose an education that meets their family’s needs, and this bill prevents that.”

Garrow also questioned the motives behind the introduction of the bill.

“It is odd that of all aspects of public education, this one alone would become compulsory,” mused Garrow.

“Why does the state want to control and compel how a child learns about sex against parents and the schools they freely choose?”

The first hearing on HB-1032 is currently scheduled for January 30.

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