April 2019 Church & State Magazine - April 2019

‘Abstinence-Only’ Sex Education May End In Colorado

  Rob Boston

“Abstinence-only” sex education, an approach championed by Religious Right groups for years, is on the way out in Colorado.

The Colorado House of Representatives recently passed legislation approving the use of comprehensive sex education in the state. The measure, which is pending in the Senate, moves away from stressing abstinence and focuses on birth control, the importance of consent in sexual relations, LGBTQ issues and HIV education.

Sex-education advocates say abstinence-based programs are unrealistic because studies show that 95 percent of Americans have sex before marriage. There have also been complaints that such curricula are medically inaccurate and rely on fear-based models. In Colorado, many teens backed comprehensive sex education and lobbied lawmakers to ensure that the information provided in the classes was accurate.

Nonetheless, Religious Right groups are pushing back in an effort to derail the curriculum even though the law allows parents who object to withdraw their children from the classes.

The New York Times reported that during debate over the bill in January, “opponents condemned homosexuality, accused a Democratic lawmaker of being a pedophile and falsely claimed it would allow schools to teach explicit sex acts to 9-year-olds. Much of the outrage was spurred by social[ly] conservative groups, which sent emails to their followers that contained incorrect information about the legislation.”

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