As part of our policy and legislative accountability work, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado has launched a “Sex Ed Detective” initiative to coincide with school board elections. And now that the results are in with Denver, Jefferson, and Douglas Counties, it’s time to investigate whether school districts there and across the state are fulfilling their obligation to students on Sex Ed.

Colorado state law requires that if you are offering a sex ed curriculum, it must be science-based and comprehensive. Because we are a local control state, school districts can decide whether it is included as a subject. This is where you can help: we are asking for feedback on which school districts are implementing comprehensive sex ed.

Studies have shown that comprehensive, science-based sex ed can reduce the teen birth rate, along with reducing sexually transmitted diseases and other positive health impacts. On the flip side, states that only have “abstinence only sex education” – a contradiction in terms – have shown an INCREASE in teen births and poor health outcomes.

According to the Washington Post, “The most recent authoritative review of the scientific evidence comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC examined scientific evaluations from 66 comprehensive risk reduction programs and 23 abstinence-only programs. The CDC found inconclusive evidence that abstinence-only programs helped young people delay sexual initiation; nor did they change other behaviors. In contrast, CDC found comprehensive programs had favorable effects on multiple adolescent behaviors, including sexual initiation, number of sex partners, frequency of sexual activity, use of protection (condoms, oral contraceptives, or both), frequency of unprotected sexual activity, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.”

Clearly, comprehensive sexual education is the right way to go and more schools should be offering it. NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado is dedicated to providing the public with the tools they need to better track where the gaps are and where they and we can help.

We are asking sleuths on the ground to propose these four questions to your local school districts and administration, and to send us the results:

  1. Does your school (or school district) currently offer comprehensive, evidence based sexual education to students? If no, why not?
  2. Are the nurses at your school able to discuss issues regarding contraception, STI’s and STD’s, gender identity and general sexuality with students who request such information? Why or why not?
  3. Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which lie to women about their healthcare options and perpetuate dangerous myths around reproductive health, are incredibly prevalent in Colorado. In certain districts, especially in rural areas, we are seeing schools that are inviting Crisis Pregnancy Centers into their facilities to do sex ed programming that is designed to scare and to shame rather than to educate. Have you seen a CPC come to your school to “teach” children the incorrect information? Who DOES facilitate your sex education?
  4. Does your school or district include training on “consent,” (including consent to touch) at all age levels? Why or why not?

Colorado is a forward-thinking state on reproductive rights and policy, and we’ve seen positive results in cutting the unintended pregnancy rate through both access to contraception and comprehensive sex ed.

So help us help you by becoming a Sex Ed Detective!