Bill to Update Colorado Sex-Education Rapidly Advances

A bill to update and revamp Colorado’s current sex-education curriculum is now one vote away from the Governor’s Desk.

This bill (H.B. 1081) creates grants –  funded by either the federal government or private donors—to sponsor comprehensive sex-education in Colorado schools. Districts with abstinence-only curricula would not be required to change, but they would be ineligible for the new grant money. The current program requires parents to opt-in to sex-ed classes, while this bill modifies this feature so that parents would instead be required to opt-out if they so prefer, greatly increasing the likelihood that a higher number of students will participate. The bill passed the House 38-27 along party lines on February 21, and passed the Senate this past Monday on a 20-15 straight party-line vote.

Due to changes made in the Senate, namely a modification mandating that the new curriculum stress the importance of abstinence, the bill now goes back to the House for a final vote. The change reads, “Because abstinence is one hundred percent effective in preventing pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections and because although many birth control methods can have high rates of success if used properly, they can also occasionally fail to prevent pregnancy or the spread of sexually transmitted infections, all comprehensive human sexuality education must stress the importance of abstinence.”

Not a single Republican voted for the Senate bill, but all 20 Democrats did.

The chief critic of the bill was Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R), who criticized a Colorado health department report on teen sexual health for citing the failures of abstinence-only sex ed. “My deep suspicion is this is about anything but abstinence,” Lundberg said. The amended language about the importance of including abstinence was added by Democrats.

The bills original sponsor Rep. Crisanta Duran supported this addition. “An abstinence-only approach simply hasn’t worked,” she said, adding that a comprehensive sex-education model that includes abstinence is the best method to avoid unwanted pregnancy and diseases.

RMC is a strong advocate for advancing abstinence-plus-comprehensive-sex-education as an important way to stem the transmission of STIs and lessen the rate of teen pregnancy. Previous blog posts have explored the failings of abstinence only education and shown how abstinence-plus education is the most effective and cost-effective method for controlling the frequency of unintended pregnancies.

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