The dangers of the proposed sexuality education bill for Colorado schools

Faithful are encouraged to testify against HB 19-1032 Feb. 28

A controversial sexuality education bill was approved by the House of Representatives in February and now seeks approval of the State Senate, starting with a hearing on Thursday, Feb. 28.

House Bill 19-1032 would require public and charter schools in Colorado that choose to teach a sexual education curriculum to follow certain “comprehensive sex-ed” regulations which opponents of the bill argue undermine the rights of parents to educate their children on issues of sexual morality.

All are encouraged to attend the hearing at the State Capitol and express their concern against HB 19-1032. The committee hearing is scheduled for 1:30 pm in SCR 357.

The Denver Catholic spoke to three experts to explore some of the dangers of this bill: Father Luis Granados, DCJM, doctor in moral theology; Dr. Elizabeth Walker, clinical psychologist; and Dr. Francisco La Rosa, associate professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Does it fill a need?

According to Dr. La Rosa, allowing the government to introduce sexual education during the years of brain development “is to introduce confusion and self-doubt which can lead to serious problems of anxiety, depression and suicide.”

The content of the curriculum is undefined, and the bill is vague on how schools will determine what is “age appropriate.”

“[This bill is] bad news for children and parents because children will come home with many questions, very confused and disoriented, and the teachers who do not agree with this teaching and object to it will eventually be fired for refusing to teach something that harms children,” Father Granados added.

Religion: an ideology?

One of the statements of the house bill affirms that sexual education must exclude all forms of “religious ideology.” In this respect, Father Granados clarified: “The Catholic teaching on sexuality is not an ideology, [rather] it helps us understand the truth of our being and of natural law… [Ironically], this law introduces its own ideology that is harmful, [making affirmations such as], ‘a boy can be a girl in a boy’s body.’”

Furthermore, Dr. Walker highlighted that the Catholic teaching on the orientation of the human person “is rooted in natural law.” This natural law says that “we are created male or female” and that contraception and abortion “are contrary to [it].”

Abortion

If the topic of an undesired pregnancy were to be discussed in class, this bill would make it mandatory for teachers to present abortion and life as equal options. Father Granados warned that even though the bill claims to be neutral in this matter, “what it’s actually doing is promoting the culture of death because, evidently, if the three options are presented as equal, the girl will most likely choose abortion.”

Dr. Walker also pointed out the reality of the Post Abortion Stress Syndrome, “a sort of spiritual and emotional death. At some point, post-abortive women – and others who facilitate abortions – suffer from profound grief, regret, guilt and depressive and post-traumatic stress disorders.” It’s a trauma that can lead a woman to have suicidal or self-destructive behaviors.

Moreover, Dr. La Rosa assures that the best way to reduce abortions “is by educating children to respect life from the moment of conception until natural death, and to practice chastity… until the time of marriage.”

A true education

Nonetheless, one question remains: How can we fill the void of sexual education that so many children and teens lack?

Father Granados proposes that “parents talk to their children about sexuality properly,” calling to mind that there are many programs available, such as the Theology of the Body and Teen Star, that help children and adolescents know their body and guide parents in talking to their children about this subject.

“Sexuality is good,” Father Granados said. “It has been created by God, and as parents we have that responsibility of saying that God has created us male or female. We must thank God, who gives sense to our sexuality.”

But, can promoting abstinence be attractive to a young man or woman in the 21st century? “In my experience, when young people are presented with the truth of God’s plan for sexuality and marriage, their eyes light up and something clicks in their mind,” Dr. Walker said. “We are wired for the truth. The natural law is written on every human heart. These fundamental truths, when presented with compassion and love, can lead to dramatic conversions. I have seen young people repent and choose a new way of living; there is much peace in living a virtuous, pure life.”

Dr. La Rosa added that Popes Pius XI and XII “have instructed us very clearly that the tradition teaching about sex education should not be primarily a matter of discussing explicit sexual issues, but rather, it should be a matter if inculcating modesty, purity, chastity and morality.”

The State takes control

According to Dr. Walker, taking control of the sexual education of children the way this bill does, “would violate the religious freedom of parents, educators and children themselves.”

Fr. Granados added that “it would be very naïve to think that Catholic schools and homeschoolers will not be targeted in the near future. We must fight to protect all children in the State of Colorado from this aggressive teaching of gender ideology.”

Thus, instead of imposing an education that can generate confusion among children and adolescents, Father Granados recommends that children be taught to “dress with dignity.” And encourages parents to dialogue and ask their children when they return from school: “What have you learned today? What did they teach you?”

Similarly, Dr. Walker said, “I would also encourage parents to discuss chastity and purity and modesty with their children at a very early age.”

HB 19 1032 IS SCHEDULED TO BE HEARD ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28 IN THE SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE ROOM 357.  THE COMMITTEE STARTS AT 1:30 P.M. 

ANYONE IS WELCOME TO COME TO THE CAPITAL TO LISTEN AND OR  TESTIFY ON HB 19 1032.

To contact your state representative and ask them to oppose House Bill 1032, click here.

COMING UP: Catholic faithful vow to continue fighting controversial sex education bill

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

After roughly 10 hours of debate and over 300 public testimonies, a Colorado House committee voted 7-4 to approve a controversial sexual education bill Wednesday. The bill now moves to the House Appropriations committee.

Several overflow rooms were needed at the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 30 to seat the hundreds of people who showed up to voice their opinion on House Bill 19-1032.

The bill would require public and charter schools that choose to teach a sexual education curriculum to follow certain “comprehensive sex-ed” regulations, some of which include teaching that abstinence is equal to “safe sex”; if pregnancy outcome options are taught, then abortion, adoption and parenting must all be presented without bias; and the content must promote “sexual activity, sexuality, and sexual orientation as a normal part of human development.”

Among those present in opposition were parents and people of faith, many who waited hours for their turn to speak.

“This [bill] specifically undermines the rights of parents because there’s a section of the bill that says that teachers may discuss gender sexuality outside the curriculum,” said Kelsey Buckingham, a nurse and mother of a child in public school and parishioner at St. Joseph’s Parish in Golden. “So even though the bulk of the curriculum allows parental consent, it puts a loophole in that allows for teacher to have these conversations with my child without my consent.”

In the midst of the waves of people that waited to testify, parents of homeschooled children and those with children in Catholic schools made their voices heard too, declaring that the bill would also affect them.

“Even though we homeschool, we have friends that go to public schools and they’re going to have conversations with [my children] that I don’t want them to have because of this bill, if it gets passed. It’s robbing children of their innocence,” said Stephanie Kelley, mother of five children whom she homeschools and parishioner at Holy Name in Sheridan. “This bill [also affects all parents by] removing our God-given right to parent our children as we see fit. Please let parents be parents and kids be kids. Do not put tools that can harm our children in their hands before they can handle it…”

The bill has been opposed by the Colorado Catholic Conference and the Archdiocese of Denver.

“[The bill] would require public and charter schools to either use a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum that contradicts human nature and is inconsistent with Christian values, or to provide no instruction on sexuality at all,” Archbishop of Denver Samuel J. Aquila said in a letter written to all the faithful of the archdiocese. “We know that God made us male and female, in his image and likeness, but the comprehensive curriculum route which most schools will likely adopt teaches innocent children this is not true.”

Also testifying Wednesday night was Father Daniel Nolan, vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Littleton. His comments on human sexuality were challenged by Rep. Brianna Titone, who asked him: “As a Catholic priest, are you abstaining from sex?”

A reaction of disapproval spurted from most of the audience, but Father Nolan humorously replied: “Well, I am a handsome man.”

The representative then said: “A follow up question, which was my main point: You seem to be an expert on the topic, how did you become on expert on the topic?”

The priest calmly responded, “I hear confessions,” which was followed by an outburst of claps from the audience that the Madame chair was forced to silence.

Rep. Mark Bailey — who publicly opposed the bill and called it “a violation of the First Amendment” for its suppression of religion in school districts —argued that the phrase “healthy relationships” had problematic outcomes for parents: “This is what it really is about: for parents to have the right to define for their children what a ‘healthy sexual relationship’ is… Is this our role as a state to determine what a healthy sexual relationship is rather than allow parents to define that for their kids?”

In a similar statement, Stephanie Currie, representative of Family Policy Alliance, said: “Parents, not the state, have the inalienable, constitutional rights for the moral upbringing of their children. This means parents have the right to define the inner boundaries of what they call sane and healthy relationships.”

Moreover, other parents and religious leaders testified that the bill pushed gender ideology at the expense of religious beliefs or traditional values.

“Unelected Colorado State entities have already demonstrated animosity toward people of faith and in views about marriage and sexuality,” said Jeff Johnson, a father of children in charter school. “This bill is trying to inculcate students into [specific] ideological beliefs about sexuality and relationships. This ideology is not rooted in science… Sexual orientation and gender identity are not measurable discrete scientific realities. They are moldered social constructs, and that is what this bill is forcing on local communities.”

Even though many opponents of the bill were saddened to see its approval despite the great opposition, they’re resolved to continue fighting as the bill still needs approval by the full House and then also the State Senate.

“It was an impressive turnout. It was unbelievable seeing the people that came out in opposition to this,” Buckingham concluded. “I just hope the legislators are giving weight to the fact that so many people are voicing concern. I hope they can keep that in mind, that they’re representing the public.”

Problems with HB 19-1032

*If pregnancy outcomes are covered, abortion and life must be presented as equal options.

*The “age-appropriateness” of the curriculum is vague and the actual content of the curriculum is undefined.

*Cannot teach abstinence as the primary or sole acceptable preventative method.

*“Healthy relationships” are defined by the state, not by parents.

*Creates a loophole where programming on gender, gender expression and sexual orientation can be taught outside of the human sexuality instruction without notification provided to parents.

*Charter schools may not apply for a waiver.

To contact your state representative and ask them to oppose House Bill 1032, click here.