DENVER (AP) — Democrats advanced a proposal Thursday to revamp standards for teaching sex education at Colorado schools, despite objections from Republicans who say the measure infringes on local control.
The bill passed the House Health, Insurance, and Environment committee on a 6-5 party-line vote. The proposed legislation would create new statewide standards for teaching abstinence and safe sex. Parents would be required to opt out, instead of the current requirement that they approve participation for their children.
Denver Democratic Rep. Crisanta Duran, the bill sponsor, said one of the goals is to move beyond teaching students only about abstinence and also inform them about sexually transmitted diseases and contraception.
"So in the event that students choose to have sex that they can protect themselves," she said.
The bill still needs to be voted on by the entire House.
The bill would also create a grant program to help schools get federal money to implement expanded instruction if they choose. She said many school districts don't have enough funds to implement comprehensive sex-education programs.
"In some of the poorest counties in the state, we're seeing the highest levels of teenage pregnancies, and so we really need to address this issue," Duran said.
Republicans disagree with the proposal.
"It's a pretty radical, extreme bill," said Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Amy Stephens, who added that the idea interferes with local control.
"What this is trying to do is prescribe to the T what they're going to have to teach. And it really violates a lot of the religious conscience," Stephens said.
But Duran insisted parents and school districts would still control what students are taught.
"There are some abstinence-only programs, and it's not going to infringe on the right to teach those types of education models," she said.