General Articles

Comprehensive Sexuality Education Comes to Colorado

Fort Collins, CO

Starting this school year, students in Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado will receive comprehensive sexuality education that includes discussions of abstinence, healthy relationships, condoms, contraception, and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The comprehensive curriculum, which was designed by a committee of parents, teachers, school administrators, and citizens, replaced the district’s abstinence-only programs.

The push for comprehensive sexuality education in Fort Collins began in 2001, when one parent visited her daughter’s sexuality education class. That parent was concerned to find educators teaching abstinence-only and disseminating false information about condoms and STDs.1

“[They taught that] you need to be abstinent, end of story," says the parent. "Some of the things that they said really upset me.”2

She decided to join with other concerned parents, educators, and citizens to form an advisory committee that would examine the school district’s sexuality education programs. In early 2004, the committee decided to write its own lesson plan.

The new curriculum, which begins in the seventh grade, stresses abstinence—a requirement of Colorado state law—but also includes discussion of condoms, contraception, gender stereotypes, and the human reproductive system.3

“I think it’s a good curriculum for the junior high kids,” says one science and health teacher from the district.4

A Reverend at the Christ Fellowship Church, who served as a member of the advisory committee, agreed. “All of us felt like we were striking a good medium chord, with an underlying drumbeat that says, ‘Abstinence is the best choice,’” he said.

The nearly 1,800 seventh graders in Poudre School District are required to obtain parental consent for the two-week sexuality education program. District administrators say that few families have “opted out” so far this year.5

SIECUS Vice President for Information and Communications Martha Kempner applauded the new program. “The research shows that if we teach young people about condoms and abstinence in the same program, we’re actually doing them a service,” Kempner says. “Young people who have taken programs that cover both end up delaying sexual intercourse and using condoms and contraception more often when they do become sexually active.”6

Kempner continues, “I think that Fort Collins did a great thing here…The Poudre School District is setting a good example for other communities in the country.7


  1. Michael Beckel, “Sex By the Book,” Rocky Mountain Chronicle, 7 February 2007, accessed 14 February 2007, <>.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.