School’s back in session and the parents at St. Mary Church in Littleton want the community to know biology may not be all their students will learn about sexuality this year.
After a comprehensive sex-education bill passed in Colorado last session, public schools have access to federally-funded grant programs to teach students the how-to’s of condom use, lubricant substitutions and homosexual activity. The program is not used in Denver’s Catholic schools.
What may be most concerning to parents is students are automatically enrolled in sex education unless a parent writes a written request for an opt-out.
The Faithful Citizenship Ministry group of the parish collaborated to publish a brochure outlining the facts and resources surrounding the comprehensive sex education. The brochures were distributed to some 300 churches.
Mother and wife Natalie Hattenbach of the faithful citizenship group told the Denver Catholic Register she finds the legislation offensive because it strips parents of their right to be primary educators.
“And I’m worried because the more that the government gets involved in my parenting, the more they’re taking away the influence I have over my children,” she told the Register.
The new curriculum may draw on more than reproductive science and could include sexually-explicit courses and extensive instruction on contraception and sex acts. Some models offered by Planned Parenthood of the Federation of America among others include teaching fifth-graders definitions of sexual orientation and 12th-graders fluency in using a condom correctly.
The Colorado Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s three Catholic dioceses, fought the bill stating it would compromise local school districts’ separate abilities to determine sex-ed standards.
The brochure encourages parents to contact their child’s principal or school board. It also lists websites and Christian resources for teaching children healthy and moral sexual behavior.
“Do not let the government take away your parental and moral authority as the primary educators of your children,” the brochure reads.
Youths’ sexuality became the focus of another state program touted by Gov. John Hickenlooper this year.
The state health department credited a 40 percent drop in the teen birth rate to the insertion of some 30,000 intrauterine devices or implants at low or no cost in clinics across Colorado. Among the teen clinics, about 20 percent of teenagers chose to switch to an IUD, said Greta Klingler, family planning expansion coordinator at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Health professionals say IUDs, while effective at preventing pregnancy, do not protect against STDs or viral infections.
“STDs are the elephant in the room when talking about teens and IUDs,” said Lynn Grandon, director of Catholic Charities’ Respect Life Resources.
She said the devices are touted as a solution to teenagers who are forgetful when using other contraceptive methods. Abstinence is 100 percent preventable against both pregnancy and STDs.
“Their claim is abstinence doesn’t work,” she said. But youths are capable of understanding the truth about sexuality, said Grandon, who is a nurse.
Michelle Stanford, a physician at Centennial Pediatrics, told the Register IUDs are particularly risky for teenagers, especially given studies on its long-term effects are absent.
“There is discussion and concern of IUD use in women with multiple partners, particularly teenagers, in which sexually-transmitted disease is present in 1 of 4 (youths) aged 15-24 years,” she said. “When the device is used in this population, getting a sexually-transmitted infection while the device is present could lead to a more serious infection.”
Some call it the silent epidemic because “no one talks about it,” she said.