Language in the sex education bill, HB19-1032, forbidding educators from "employing gender norms or gender stereotypes" while teaching comprehensive sex education was stricken from the bill altogether, Rep. Bri Buentello said at a La Junta Town Hall on Saturday.
Buentello, who represents Colorado Congressional District 47 and is the vice-chair of the education committee, attended the town hall to discuss legislation she is working on and to answer questions from the public.
There were several modifications to HB19-1032, Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education, once it reached the Senate, Buentello said.
"What concerns me is that this bill feels very anti-conservative," said La Junta resident Stephanie Garbo. "... It even states that it rejects the use of gender norms or gender stereotypes and considers them tactics.
"This bill promotes the use of abortion as birth control and does not endorse abstinence, which goes against many of our conservative values."
The section of HB19-1032 regarding gender norms and stereotyping was struck from the bill entirely in the Senate on Thursday, Buentello said. In addition, she said the bill would allow parents to opt their children out of sex education courses if they weren't comfortable with the subject matter.
"I'm really proud of the language ... that Republican Sen. Don Coram and I came up with. Parents can opt out," she said. "That is in the bill and it's clarified, so frankly there's no way for you to sue, for anyone to sue and try to claim otherwise. ... The truth of the matter is, this bill's about consent. This bill is about health information."
Buentello said that individual communities can take action through their local government, such as school boards, to make the HB19-1032 legislation work best for them.
"That (sex education) curriculum is written by the local school board. This bill is very local-control-oriented," said Buentello. "The sex ed here in La Junta is going to look very, very different, I imagine, from the sex ed that's being taught in Boulder Valley School District.
"Frankly, that's part of why I worked so closely with Republican Senator Don Coram. I wanted to make sure that this was a bill that didn't have unintended consequences."
Buentello is one of the several co-sponsors of the bill, which was introduced by Reps. Yadira Caraveo, Susan Lontine and Sens. Nancy Todd and Coram. The measure has now been referred to the Committee on Appropriations.
The General General Assembly website explains that the bill clarifies content requirements for public schools that offer comprehensive human sexuality education and prohibits instruction from explicity or implicityly teaching or endorsing religious ideaology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instruction tools, employment gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.
Current law provides for a comprehensive human sexuality education grant program, the website said. The bill amends certain provisions of the grant program to:Require the department of public health and environment to submit an annual report concerning the outcomes of the grant program indefinitely; Add eight representatives to the oversight entity and require membership of the oversight entity to be comprised of at least 7 members who are members of groups of people who have been or might be discriminated against; Require grant applicants to demonstrate a need for money to implement comprehensive human sexuality education; and Require that rural public schools or public schools that do not currently offer comprehensive human sexuality education receive priority when selecting grant applicants.
The bill provides a general appropriation of at least $1 million annually for the grant program.
The bill prohibits the state board of education from waiving the content requirements for any public school that provides comprehensive human sexuality education.