After being introduced in January 2013, Colorado House Bill 13-1081, Comprehensive Human Sexuality K-12 Education,was signed by Governor John Hickenlooper on Tuesday, May 28th, 2013. The new bill delineates criteria for “comprehensive human sexuality education” and establishes a grant program within the Department of Public Health and Environment to provide federal funding or otherwise appropriated state funds to public schools to create and implement evidence based, culturally sensitive, and age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education programs.
The HB 13-1081 criteria for “comprehensive human sexuality education” is not a mandate, but rather applies to schools receiving this grant funding. Whether the definition also applies to schools currently providing human sexuality instruction without this dedicated funding is a question awaiting clarification from the Attorney General’s office.
In addition to the new definition and grant program, the law also creates a provision limiting the use of direct and indirect federal abstinence education funds (pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 710) received prior to July 1, 2013 to the school year for which they were intended. Schools will not be able to use direct or indirect federal funding to provide abstinence-only education after July 1, 2013. The Attorney General’s office has issued an opinion indicating that schools can receive abstinence-only education from third-party nonprofit organizations as long as the schools aren’t directly accepting funding from the third-party.
The law also strikes a previous “opt-in” provision that required parents to provide written consent for their children to participate in any program discussing human reproduction, enrolling students in classes unless their parents actively object. This is another provision of the law that awaits further clarification. It is yet to be determined whether this “opt-out” policy will apply solely to the students in schools receiving dedicated grant funding, or to all students receiving sexuality education including those in non-grant-funded schools.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains applauded the advancement of the bill, stating; “sixty one percent of Colorado high school students report having had sex by 12th grade. We must ensure that our future leaders have the knowledge and skills to make the best decisions for themselves in any situation.”
House Bill 13-1081, General Assembly of the State of Colorado, May 28, 2013, accessed May 30, http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2013a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/1B0EC2643B4EFFB787257AEE0054AB45?open&file=1081_enr.pdf.
National Conference of State Legislatures, “State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” May 22, 2013, accessed May 30, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, “Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Applauds the Advancement of HB-1081, Comprehensive Human Sexuality K-12 Education Act,” February 22, 2013, accessed May 30, 2013, http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/local-press-releases/planned-parenthood-rocky-mountains-applauds-advancement-hb-1081-comprehensive-human-sexuality-k-40991.htm.