Colo. Lawmakers Push for Comprehensive Sex Education
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. A bill making its way through the Colorado legislature aims to make sexual education more comprehensive in the classroom. The measure would create a grant program and set requirements for school sex education.
The bill recently passed through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on a narrow party-line vote and is democratic-sponsored.
Mesa County resident Kristy Emerson believes sexual education in the classroom is necessary, "For the simple fact that they need to know about it, and not all parents are comfortable talking to their children about it."
Students at District 51 schools receive health and wellness education. Spokesperson for the district, Christy McGee, said, "There are some topics and some points of this that do fall under the Colorado Academic Standards, and we will teach to that, per the standards. We're not necessarily going to go above and beyond and cross into that personal area where parents feel they need to be teaching."
More comprehensive sex education would aim to tackle issues like sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy.
Kristy Emerson, director of health promotions for the Mesa County Health Department, said, "What we are seeing nationally for teen birth rates is a steady decline. Thankfully we're seeing that decline here in Mesa County, but we still have a higher rate here in Mesa County than does the state of Colorado."
It would also integrate "culturally sensitive" knowledge into the education, including gay, lesbian and others whose experiences have been traditionally left out of sex education.
Applying for the sex education grants would be voluntary for schools. Parents would have an opt-out choice for their kids, rather than an opt-in choice.
In regards to the health and wellness courses at District 51 schools, McGee said, "That's unique to District 51. It's a half-credit graduation requirement in the high schools, and again, they learn about fitness and a healthy diet, but it also talks about healthy relationships and sexual activity."
District 51 currently has no grants designated to this area of education. If the bill is passed, officials say they will research the requirements and potential benefits before moving forward.
The grant program would be ran by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, not the Department of Education. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told NewsChannel 5 they are taking a neutral stance on the bill.