DENVER (CBS4) – Three hundred people packed the State Capitol to debate a bill about sex education in schools.
"Sex, sex, sex. Gratification should be the name of the curriculum,” one opponent told lawmakers. “Schools teach history and social studies and languages and shop and other things. And that’s what they should be teaching, but they should stay out of sex -- that belongs to family and not to the school district!”
But the bill isn’t entirely new. Six years ago, lawmakers passed legislation requiring schools that teach sex education do so in a comprehensive way.
The new bill defines what exactly comprehensive means.
“There’s a lot [of] misinformation out there about what this is. This is absolutely not a mandate,” said Alison Macklin with Planned Parenthood.
She says sex education in schools is already happening. What changes is what’s included in that education. The bill requires information about all forms of pregnancy prevention, not just abstinence; what’s consent and what’s sexual assault; and safe and healthy relationships whether they be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
It bars shame-based language and gender stereotypes. One Republican lawmaker questioned whether the bill goes too far.
“Is this our role as a state to determine what a healthy sexual relationship is, rather than allow the parents to define that for their families?”
Macklin says many kids aren’t getting the education at home.
“Unfortunately not everyone grows up in a household where they’re comfortable talking about sex and sexuality, so we need to make sure young people are getting that factual information in school,” she said.
The bill doesn’t mandate sex education, but in schools that do teach it, it must be comprehensive as defined in the bill. It also makes pregnancy education optional, but if it’s taught, it must include adoption and abortion.
Parents can opt their kids out of sex education without penalty.
The bill sets aside a million dollars in grant money to help schools that don’t have sex education classes.