A bill seeking to make sex-ed programs in public schools more comprehensive and inclusive is drawing criticism from some Colorado Republicans, including the Republican House Minority Leader, despite having bipartisan support in the legislature.
The bill lays out content requirements for sex-ed programs and would prohibit them from employing religious ideologies, shame-based methods, and gender stereotypes, or excluding LGBTQ experiences.
It also requires that programs include teaching about sexual assault and consent, including how to communicate consent and recognize when it has been withdrawn.
Prime sponsors include State Rep. Susan Lontine (D-Denver), State Sen. Nancy Todd (D-Aurora), and State Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose), who occasionally sides with Democrats on social issues.
Some Republicans, however, are outraged with some of the bill’s requirements, including that homosexuality
That’s how former State Sen. Kevin Lundberg put it in a Facebook post last week, in which he called the bill a “manifesto for rigidly requiring all schools receiving public funds to a new morality that is bereft of any actual morals.”
Beyond including LGBTQ kids, Lundberg also took issue with the fact that the bill requires sex-ed programs to provide medically accurate information about all methods for preventing pregnancy and STIs, including all FDA-approved contraceptives, rather than teaching abstinence only.
And pushing a belief that is scientifically unsubstantiated yet common among abortion foes, Lundberg referred to some contraceptives as “abortifacient methods.”
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) called the legislation “ridiculous” in an interview with Peter Boyles on KNUS radio, adding that it “can start as early as kindergarten, totally indoctrinating our children.”
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Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing a kind of sex-ed legislation of their own with a bill that would require the state’s Safe Haven law, which allows mothers to surrender newborns at fire stations and hospitals with no questions asked, to be taught to public school students.
That bill is being sponsored by State Sen. Jim Smallwood (R-Parker).
At a hearing in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee yesterday, State Sen. Mike Foote (D-Lafayette) introduced an amendment making the Safe Haven bill contingent on Democrats’ comprehensive sex-ed bill.
“My understanding from the bill sponsors that it’s being discussed to be added,” Foote told CBS4’s Shaun Boyd.
Smallwood didn’t return a call seeking to know how he’d vote on the Democrats’ sex-ed bill should it include a provision requiring the teaching of the Safe Haven law.
Smallwood would likely take issue with some aspects of the Democrats’ bill, like the requirement that sex-ed programs that include information about pregnancy outcomes mention abortion as an option that’s equally acceptable as giving birth or adoption.
Smallwood is currently co-sponsoring a bill that would make all abortion illegal in the state.
Colorado voters gave Democrats the go-ahead to pass progressive policies at the statehouse after handing them control of both chambers of the legislature in November.
A hearing for the comprehensive sex-ed bill is set to take place Wed., Jan. 30, in the House Health and Insurance committee.