Relegated to minority status in the Colorado legislature, Republicans are turning to ballot initiatives in an attempt to pass laws targeting transgender people.

“We want to make the family stronger, but ultimately we also want to make sure that we’re promoting protecting children because they’re the most vulnerable in our society,” said former Parker mayor and failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Lopez during a Feb. 5 appearance on the Truth and Liberty livecast. “What we’re doing is we’re introducing initiatives that we’re going to put on the ballot in November. These initiatives are strictly laws that the people are going to be able to pass, that protect the fundamental rights of parents to be actively involved in every aspect of their [child’s] upbringing, to nurture them, to be involved in their education, to be involved in their sports. Because parents have lost their voice, we’re trying to bring it back, and so this is something that is a statewide effort.”

Lopez is part of a coalition called Protect Kids Colorado, whose website claims, “A substantial percentage of law-abiding parents and citizens have been conditioned to believe that public schools are a safe environment and that indoctrination concerning sexualization, and gender transformation is not being encouraged in the classrooms. All evidence shows that this is happening in every classroom across Colorado.”

Lopez (left) with U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

During Lopez’s 2022 primary campaign against Heidi Ganahl, he claimed that LGBTQ students are bullying straight students. “This is just another example of how we’ve lost our moral compass,” he said during a candidate forum in Colorado Springs. “They want to tell us that they’re trying to help the vulnerable. What they’re actually doing is not only confusing our children, but they’re creating bullies within the school system. … I was talking to a mom the other day and she goes, ‘Greg, you won’t believe what my 16 year-old son told me. I asked him if this was happening in the schools and goes, ‘Yes, mom, it is.’ So what do you do about it son? ‘Mom, I tell everyone I’m gay so they’ll leave me alone, so I don’t have to deal with the bullying that comes with, if we’re normal, the students and the teachers attack us.’”

Lopez repeated this claim during his Truth and Liberty appearance, but data from the 2021 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey shows that 78% of lesbian or gay students reported bullying due to sexual orientation, compared to only 8.2% of straight students.

“What we’re seeing here, there is a new religion that has penetrated the schools,” claimed Lopez. “If you look at the definition of religion, transgenderism is now a religion because they have a community, they have a belief system. They’re trying to do conversion, and it’s all happening in the schools. And we all know that religion does not belong in the schools. And this is what’s happening. And people need to wake up. Parents need to wake up. Society needs to wake up. There’s a new religion that’s penetrated our schools, and that’s how they’re making the conversion.”

Maria Ignacia Miranda Santis, One Colorado’s political and organizing director for strategic initiatives, is pushing back against Protect Kids Colorado’s rhetoric and initiatives. “That’s a completely false narrative of what it means for someone to be trans,” she said. “Unfortunately, the ramifications of that is an increase in violence, an increase in anti-LGBTQ, parental legislation that we’re seeing, and more specifically anti-trans legislation. Unfortunately, Colorado is no different, especially when we talk about the national context … This false narrative that they’re building has nothing to do with what it actually means for people to be trans, which is an internal experience and the journey of self awareness that people go through, and it’s not determined by other external factors, which is what they claim in this podcast.”

Currently, the Colorado Title Board is considering two initiatives from Protect Kids Colorado — “Public Athletics Programs for Minors,” sponsored by Protect Kids Colorado’s Linda White and Colorado Gays Against Groomers chapter leader Rich Guggenheim, and “Parental Notification of Gender Incongruence,” sponsored by Protect Kids Colorado’s Erin Lee and Lori Gimelshteyn, founder of the Colorado Parent Advocacy Network.

“We have a lot of young men that are saying that they’re girls and they want to participate in girls sports,” claimed Lopez. “Now we’re trying to protect our children, and we know that biologically, you may think you’re a female, but you are a male. And so we don’t want the girls to be hurt by the physical strength and the ability for someone to come in to their sport, take away their medals, take away their recognition. And so we just want to make sure that in Colorado, any athletic program that says females predominantly must always be females, they compete in that. And it’s based on your gender at birth, not gender that doctors decide after the fact.”

In 2020, Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green told the Colorado Springs Independent that there have been no issues with the current trans sports policy, or any specific cases of trans athletes winning any contested or controversial events here in Colorado.

“It would prevent trans girls from participating in school sports, where they’re able to create friends and build a community and feel like they belong in a safe environment,” said Miranda Santis. “The main reason why we’re opposing these [initiatives] is they’re incredibly harmful ballot initiatives. And because all Colorado students deserve a positive and affirming learning environment. Anti-LGBTQ bias hurts all children, both those who are directly impacted and affected by these [initiatives], and those around them as well, who have to learn in an atmosphere of fear and tension, and then they’re afraid to explore their own lives because of worries of disapproval and rejection by their peers and and adults around them.”

Recently in Utah, a teenage girl has had to seek police protection after a member of the Utah State Board of Education suggested — without evidence and incorrectly — that she could be transgender. In a now-deleted Facebook post, board member Natalie Cline made false implications about the teenager, whose parents described her as a tomboy with a muscular build and short hair who favors baggy clothing. The student is now being subjected to severe cyberbullying and harassment.

Former Rep. Kevin Lundberg, a member of Protect Kids Colorado’s leadership team who also holds two senior positions with the Colorado GOP, complained to Truth and Liberty’s Richard Harris about Colorado’s legislation banning conversion therapy. “There was a bill that became law in 2019 that tells every licensed mental health counselor that they cannot engage in conversion therapy,” he said. “But what that really means and how that’s really been applied to mental health workers is if a child comes in, they have a gender confusion, the only route or the only path that counselor can take with that child is to affirm their confusion. They can’t step back and say, ‘Okay, let’s look at some other options and figure out if this is really what you mean.’”

Lundberg (right) with Denver-area Nazi Josh Yeakel in 2017.

Colorado’s ban on conversion therapy only applies to licensed providers, and does not include faith-based counselors who continue to offer the practice in Colorado. In Boulder in 2019, 24 year-old Alana Chen died from suicide after years of counseling from Catholic faith leaders, starting when she was 14 years-old. Chen’s story is the subject of the podcast “Dear, Alana.”

Colorado Republicans have said they will submit least one additional anti-trans initiative for this year’s ballot. Last fall, party Chair Dave Williams launched an issue committee to a support a measure to ban doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to children.

“This specifically puts an unnecessary burden on teachers in the education system, and health care providers, with some of [the initiatives] also targeting health care, and mental health care access, so that young people and, and students and the people who are impacted by these have to censor themselves,” said Miranda Santis. “Since they’re young people and patients, it’s really an attempt to restrict and control what young people are exposed to and at what age.”

In addition to Lundberg, Protect Kids Colorado’s leadership includes Lee, who unsuccessfully sued the Poudre School District after her daughter attended an after-school Genders and Sexualities Alliance meeting at Wellington Middle School. Lee’s account of events is documented in the 2023 film “Art Club.

“I became awake, not woke, two and a half years ago when our public school violated my child and their rights,” said Lee during last weekend’s Leadership Program of the Rockies retreat in Colorado Springs. “My little girl was lured into a secret gender and sexuality club disguised as an art club. An activist came in to sexualize her and confuse her into transgenderism. And the school called CPS. When I objected to the abuse and then they publicly vilified me for speaking up. So first I saved my daughter from this identification and then I fought back. I got loud, like Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck loud, and I continued to use my megaphone to expose this Marxism through gender ideology that exists in our public schools. I filed a federal lawsuit with America First Policy Institute and Pam Bondi. I made a film about our experience to warn others. It’s actually available for free now at I encourage you to watch and share it with as many people as will listen. And I founded Stop Gender Ideology to help other families who are going through this nightmare. I travel the country now waking parents up, exposing what’s happening and encouraging them to get their kids out of government schools.”

The other Protect Kids Colorado leaders included Jeremy Goodall, the chairman of the El Paso GOP bylaws committee who was arrested in 2016 for refusing to leave a Walmart while collecting petition signatures in 2016, and Patty McKernan, the director of the St. John Leadership Institute.