Abstinence added to sex-ed legislation by State Senators; House needs to reconsider the bill

DENVER - A bill proposing updates to sex education standards needs to be reconsidered by the House after Senators add requirements that the programs stress the importance of abstinence.

The House had already passed an earlier version of the bill, designated HB 13-1081, despite complaints from Republicans that the new standards could encourage sexual activity and infringe on parental rights.

The bill would create new statewide standards for teaching abstinence and safe sex. Parents would be required to opt out, instead of the current requirement that they approve participation for their children.

A Republican amendment to the bill reinstating the opt-in practice failed.

Republicans say parents and school districts should control what students are taught, while Democrats insist the bill still gives them that power.

The bill passed the Senate Monday on a 20-15 party-line vote. The Senate made a few changes to the bill, including a requirement that sex-ed programs must stress the importance of abstinence.

"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," the change reads.

That and other Senate changes mean the House will have to reconsider the measure before it can become law.

Senator Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, said the bill is about reducing unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

The bill says the "moneys distributed through the program must only be used for the purpose of providing comprehensive human sexuality education programs that are evidence-based, culturally sensitive, medically accurate, age-appropriate, reflective of positive youth development approaches, and that comply with statutory content standards."