DENVER — A controversial bill concerning sex education in Colorado schools is getting a hearing in the state Senate as it makes its way through the legislature.
Members of the Senate Health & Human Services committee are holding a hearing Thursday on House Bill 19-1032, which has already passed several House committees after marathon testimony from both sides of the issue.
The measure would change an existing law that allows charter schools to obtain waivers to teach different types of sex education, despite abstinence-only education being banned in the state for all other schools. It would add more “human sexuality” curriculum on consent, birth control, abstinence, STD prevention, LGBTQ inclusion and healthy relationships.
“It also teaches youth about the different relationship models they and their peers may engage in, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender peers, and how to be a safe and healthy partner in a relationship,” the bill reads.
The measure would also allocate $1 million in existing money to a grant program to teach comprehensive sex education. Rural and public schools with low resources would be prioritized.
Some parents and religious leaders have argued the measure would overstep their personal beliefs.
“This bill is a serious overreach put forward by a Democrat majority and a top-down mandate to the school districts in our state,” Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park, told Denver7 last month.
Baisley said he believed the bill would violate the First Amendment, arguing the measure “prohibits any religious conversations.”
However, supporters of the bill say the measure would give students access to comprehensive information regarding sex education.
“The bill only expands the curriculum for schools that already offer or wish to offer comprehensive sex ed to include information about more than simply heterosexual relationships,” Rep. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont, wrote in a statement.
The bill has been sailing through House committees along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.
Democrats have control of both chambers of the state General Assembly and the governor’s office and can pass most any measure they wish to so long as their full caucus is onboard, though they have pledged to work in a bipartisan fashion.