Committee votes to pass bill that would create a new oversight for sex education in Colorado

DENVER - Lawmakers heard testimony Thursday afternoon over a proposed update for sex education in Colorado.

Senator Nancy Todd said House Bill 13-1081 is about reducing unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. It creates a grant program in the Department of Public Health and Environment to oversee human sexuality education.

The oversight group will apply for federal and state grants to fund the program, and develop criteria for allocating the money to school districts, charter schools or boards of cooperative services.

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."

"The good news is that we don't have a statewide curriculum for anything. It is determined at the local level and so each local school district gets to determine that," Todd said.

For parents who believe they should be the only ones teaching their children about sexuality, Todd said this bill provides the opportunity to opt out of the lessons.

"This is not to replace what parents can already do at home," she said.

Justin Watson, a student who is home-schooled in Colorado Springs, testified against the bill along with several other students.

"We already have sex education in the classroom and teachers are teaching us how to use condoms," Watson told 7NEWS before his testimony.

He proposed the focus should instead be on promoting abstinence.

"Zero percent of the kids who dedicate themselves to purity and abstinence, like myself, have to worry about things like STDs and unplanned pregnancies," Watson said.

Todd argued the state's policy should take into account that many students are already sexually active.

"It is real important that we give the dignity and respect to our students to give them the whole picture and the whole story," she said.

After hearing Thursday's testimony, the Senate Committee on Health, Insurance and Environment voted to pass the bill 4-3.

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