Ending a legislative saga filled with lurid misinformation to try to stop a sex-ed bill from gaining traction, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed into law today legislation that bans schools from teaching only about abstinence in their sex ed courses.
Schools can opt out of teaching sex ed completely, but if they choose to include it, the course must be comprehensive, addressing all legitimate pregnancy-prevention options, the experiences of LGBTQ students, abortion, and more.
The opt-out clause didn’t stop right-wing organizations, some classified as hate groups, from organizing against the bill telling their members multiple falsehoods about the bill. This resulted in hundreds of people testifying against the measure at the state Capitol.
Under the law, schools can seek a waiver from the bill’s requirements. So it’s not clear how many Colorado students will be still receive abstinence-only sex-ed classes.
Still, proponents of the legislation praised its passage into law today.
“Students who receive sex education in Colorado schools will be better prepared with more comprehensive, medically-accurate information than ever before thanks to the Youth Wellness Act that was signed into law today by Gov. Jared Polis,” said Vicki Cowart, President of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.”
“Giving students real information on healthy relationships and consent, including LGBTQ students in this learning, and allowing the full spectrum of pregnancy outcomes – including abortion – to be taught will shape generations to come. We know that when we don’t give young people the information they need, misinformation will fill the gap. That’s no way to prepare our children for the future.
“This law will foster acceptance, thoughtful decision-making, and give students tools to navigate the landscape of human relationships and sexuality. Colorado should be proud that we are giving our young people the opportunity to form healthy foundations for a lifetime.”
Denise S. Maes, Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Colorado, also praised the bill.
“The ACLU is proud to have worked with PPRM on this historical piece of legislation. For the first time in our State’s history there will be funding for all-inclusive, medically-accurate health information. It’s a win for students, a win for Colorado.”
Republicans in the Colorado legislature mostly opposed the new sex-ed law, saying the topic should be left to parents to address.
However, State Sen. Dan Coram, of Montrose, was a co-sponsor of the bill.
“I’m on the bill so I can get the things I want on the bill. I’ve got to use my negotiating power and my knowledge to try to get the things we find acceptable on the bill,” Coram told the Montrose Press.