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Colorado restores funding for youth sex and drug survey

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Posted at 10:40 AM, Mar 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 12:40:57-04

DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers have voted to restore funding for a teen survey that asks about their drug use, sex habits and suicide.

The Republican-led state Senate voted late Wednesday to restore $745,000 to next year's budget to pay for the anonymous Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.

The survey of middle and high school students asks provocative questions about sex and drug habits and whether they are contemplating suicide.

Republicans originally blocked the funding, calling the survey intrusive.

Other Republicans moved Wednesday to restore funding after state health officials insisted the survey's results provide crucial knowledge about risky childhood behaviors. The vote means the survey conducted since 1991 will likely continue.

Sen. Don Coram, a Republican, acknowledged the survey may be intrusive but said paying for it is worth it "if we can save the life of one child."

The survey provides a rare opportunity for education officials to discuss suicide with students, including those who might be contemplating taking their lives and have no one to talk to, said Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Democrat.

The surveys are sent every other year to randomly selected middle and high school students across Colorado and are used to chart risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking and bringing guns to school.

The list of 2016 questions included: "During the past 12 months, did you make a plan about how you would attempt suicide?"

The state's proposed $26.8 billion budget is up for debate and votes in the Senate before it can be sent for consideration to the Democrat-led House.

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