Sex-Ed Bill’s Meaning Muddled

Conservative religious group Colorado Family Action is lining up its members against House Bill 1300 in what it says is a fight for parental control over the “training of proper sexual behavior” in children. But the group either doesn’t understand what HB 1300 really does – or doesn’t care.

CFA has been making its case against HB 1300 by spreading misinformation about current law. The proposed legislation would require schools to notify parents in writing of their right to excuse their children from sex education classes. But, it’s a bit confusing because that requirement is, for the most part, already the law.

Only schools in districts that participate in the voluntary Colorado Comprehensive Health Education Program have to obtain written permission from parents before their children can be included in sex education classes. But only 18 out of 178 Colorado school districts currently participate in the program, according to the Colorado Department of Education. Yet Colorado Family Action still insists the bill “changes current system to one where parents are only notified that sex education programs will be offered and that parents may ‘opt-out.'”

The organization ignores the fact that HB 1300 would only affect the parent-notification protocol for 18 districts, thus putting them in sync with the other 160 that are currently only required to notify parents of their right to opt out.

Here’s the CFA’s “position” paper:

We oppose HB 07-1300 because it takes away parental authority when it comes to the critical matter of training in proper sexual behavior.  The underlying argument of supporters of this bill is that parents are either incapable or unwilling train their children.  Yet, what gives schools any greater moral authority to take parents out of the decision-making process of training their children in proper sexual behavior?  Parents would only be notified that courses will be taking place and that parents have the option to remove their children without penalty.  This is an impractical “solution” because sex education is an important subject which should involve parents by consent rather than casual notification.  Parental authority over their children is fundamental (excepting cases of physical and sexual abuse).  Parents are the first educators of their children and should be given the right to choose the manner of their education.

HB 1300, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, was passed by the House Education Committee Monday and is scheduled to be debated by the full House Tuesday afternoon.

For those interested in the statutes that would be affected by this law:

CRS 22-110.5 is the law requiring schools to inform parents of their right to opt out. HB 1300 would result in only a minor change in wording to this law.

CRS 22-25-104 is part of the Colorado Comprehensive Health Education Act and requires participating school districts (currently 18 of 178) to obtain permission slips from parents. That requirement would be changed by HB 1300.

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