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DENVER -- Rival sides yelling at each other amid angry pushing, tirades about morals, and claims of misinformation. Such was the tenor at the state Capitol Wednesday as lawmakers debated a controversial comprehensive sex education bill.
Some think sex ed should be taught at home, not in school
"This is abuse though," said certified teacher Patricia Wallace. "We are misusing this information on our children who are not able to comprehend or even understand it."
Hundreds of people packed the committee room, filled two overflow rooms, and more than 300 people signed up to testify for and against HB19-1032.
"I think parents have the right to teach their kids how they should be, sexuality what that looks like," said parent Jeremiah Klaas. "I don't think it's proper for the school to make that choice for me."
Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Teller, also opposes the bill. He believes it is not the government's role and believes the bill is unconstitutional.
"It's a violation of the First Amendment to the constitution by telling the school districts that you won't talk about anything having to do with religion," he said.
Lawmaker argues bill would help set a conversation in motion early on, help kids who experience bullying
Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, is the house sponsor who represents District 1. She said the bill is not a mandate on sex education. Instead, it requires any public or charter school who opts in to teach comprehensive sex ed. It also updates a bill passed in 2013 to include education about sexuality and consent.
"Being gay, being lesbian is not a choice people have. I think when we can have honest conversations with our kids about those things," said Lontine.
Lontine said the bill is about wellness for youth, and teaching them about all forms of sexuality. An effort to push for acceptance, in hopes of pushing out shaming and bullying of LGBTQ relationships.
Currently law lets Charter schools apply for waiver to not teach comprehensive sex-ed
State law already bans teaching abstinence-only sex education in Colorado, but Lontine said right now, Charter schools can apply for waivers not to teach comprehensive sex ed. Her bill puts an end to the loophole and adds funding for rural districts to teach it, if they chose to opt in.
"They're teaching abstinence only education which is harmful to kids. It's not an honest conversation," she said.
The debate at the Capitol was still going on as of 7 p.m. Wednesday and could last past midnight.