The state of Colorado is poised to ban abstinence-only sex education in schools.
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Currently, Colorado does not require that schools teach sexual education. But a new bill introduced by the state’s House of Representatives would put parameters on how Sex Ed is taught. The bill, which is expected to pass, requires schools who do teach Sex Ed to do so in an inclusive and comprehensive way. This bill bans abstinence-only education, requires that both public and charter schools teach students about consent, and says that any Sex Ed class must include the experiences of LGBTI people.
If this bill passes, Colorado will join eight other states and Washington DC in teaching consent in school.
‘The sooner we talk to kids about what consent looks like, the sooner I hope a tide will turn so we’re no longer hearing stories of people being harmed,’ State Representative Susan Lontine, who introduced the bill, told The New York Times.
Harms of abstinence-only education
More often than not, abstinence-only sex education perpetuates gender stereotypes, excludes LGBTI people, and greatly misinforms impressionable young people. Studies have shown that abstinence-only Sex Ed is both ineffective and harmful. In fact, it is linked to increasing rates of teen pregnancy and STIs among teens. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), students in abstinence-only classes face more health risks than their peers.
Still, abstinence-only sex education is still the norm across the United States. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 37 states require students to learn about abstinence in public schools. Of those states, 27 require that abstinence be stressed over other types of safe sex practices. Additionally, only 13 states require that sex education classes be medically accurate. Only eight states require sex education to be culturally unbiased.
‘I’d rather they just don’t teach anything if they can’t be honest,’ Lontine said.
Colorado’s new bill is still not as progressive as mandates in some states, like California. In fact, California boasts one of the most progressive and inclusive sex education laws in the country.