A bill to change the state standard for comprehensive human sexuality education is awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper's signature.
House Bill 1081 adjusts the state's definition of comprehensive sex ed to be more inclusive, and creates a grant program for schools that want to offer curriculum meeting the new standard (see "Bananarama," News, Feb. 27). Against a united Democratic majority, Senate Republicans could only amend the bill to ensure that sex ed programs continue to "stress the importance of abstinence."
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains applauded the bill's passage.
"Promoting abstinence is a big focus of the program, but we cannot deny the fact that 61 percent of Colorado high school students report having had sex by the 12th grade," PPRM president and CEO Vicki Cowart states in a press release. "This bill will ensure that youth will obtain the knowledge necessary to make healthy, responsible decisions."
Colorado does not force schools to teach comprehensive sex ed — something the bill won't change — and many schools favor an abstinence-based approach. But it's thought that many schools might choose a more complete education if given the resources to do so.
Government grants and services from nonprofits have long made abstinence-based education a cheaper option for many educators. The new grant program provided by HB1081 is expected to hand out 75 grants per year, of about $30,000 each, to schools that follow the guidelines for comprehensive sex ed. It's thought that the federal Affordable Care Act will pay for the program.