Wednesday afternoon, 300 people signed up to testify on a bill that would change some of the state’s definition for comprehensive sexual education in schools.
The bill would change some of the language about how sexual harassment, assault and orientation are discussed in classrooms receiving state money. It would also create a $1 million grant for rural schools.
The bill would not take money away from schools, nor would it force districts or children to take part in the lessons. However, it would not allow schools that don’t adhere to the standards to access state grant money.
“They shouldn’t be pushing their secular ideology on students,” said Jeff Johnston, the culture and policy analyst for Focus on the Family. “The parents should be the ones that deal with these sensitive topics with students.”
The bill does give districts and students the option to opt out.
The bill sponsors cite the conversations around sexual harassment in the state capitol and in adult spaces as a way to get ahead of that behavior. The legislation also says 28 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual students are bullied.
“[It’s] making sure our kids are presented information about other relationship models besides just heterosexual so that kids have an understanding that not everybody is the same as they are,” said Rep. Susan Lontine, a Democrat from southwest Denver who sponsors the legislation. “There are differences and they should be treated with respect and dignity as everyone should.”
While there have already been absences in the testimony list, lawmakers say they won’t adjourn until everyone who is present speaks.