HB 1032, Colorado’s sex education bill, is easily the most controversial bill this session — and for good reason. It’s rare that a bill so directly dictates what children are taught in school on a day-to-day basis. Bill proponents are using political spin to sell a radical new ideology to Colorado families, and amendments to the bill add an extra layer of confusion.
As professionals who work in the field of public policy we’re trained to deal with facts, not political spin and propaganda. So let’s cut to the chase and expose the real impact this bill could have on our children.
1. 1032 requires that when teaching about pregnancy outcomes, schools must teach children about abortion in equal measure to parenting and adoption, so it should come as no surprise that Planned Parenthood testified in favor of this bill. Their ready-made sex education curriculum fits the radical requirements of 1032, including instruction on abortion-inducing drugs and abortion. 1032 ensures that outside entities like Planned Parenthood can provide sex education in public schools, while explicitly banning abstinence-only instructors.
It’s beginning to look like Planned Parenthood’s fingerprints are all over this bill. It’s the perfect business model for them — develop a curriculum that encourages sexual interaction and experimentation between children, use lobbying and political capital to convince politicians to mandate the curriculum in schools, teach children about sex products at a young age, and ensure repeat customers.
2. 1032 requires that children be taught about “gender identity,” particularly the “health needs” of transgender individuals. The problem is, according to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, physical treatment for children who “persist” in gender dysphoria includes the use of hormones to halt the natural onset of puberty, cross-sex hormones to “masculinize or feminize” the body, and ultimately sex-change operations.
These are dramatic, life-altering changes to a healthy and developing body.
At 1032’s Senate hearing, parents from Boulder County expressed concern for the “gender transition” programming their children were already being exposed to at school, with children as young as six asking how boys can become girls and wondering whether they were really “boys in a girl body.” This may not be surprising in an area like Boulder, but 1032 would mandate this type of instruction in every Colorado public school.
This is particularly concerning since 80-95 percent of children struggling with gender dysphoria do not maintain their struggles as adults — particularly when they are not given any hormonal or surgical interventions. Why should schools be required to promote physical interventions for children that may ultimately be unnecessary or even harmful?
3. There is NO requirement that parents be notified if the topic of “gender identity” is covered when programming on gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation occurs outside of a specific “sex education” class.
This is a perfect example of what’s already happening in Boulder schools. Parents shared that they were given no prior notice when their very young children were exposed to a presentation about a “transgender raven.” Calling the program “indoctrination of their children,” parents stated that they were even criticized when they raised concerns with the school.
4. Young children will be taught how to “consent” to sex acts. Proponents claim that the crux of 1032 is teaching children “consent.” To be clear, no one — on either side of the debate — is claiming that children should force themselves on one another sexually. But the problem is, no one is talking about what “consent” policy should really look like or what the practical implications of consent are for young children.
This bill sets up scenarios where children as young as nine will be taught how to “consent” to sexual acts. Can a child that young really give meaningful consent? What about a 13-year-old who knows about sex asking a ten-year-old who doesn’t to engage sexually? Can that be consent? According to this bill, yes, so long as the 13-year-old explains what they’re going to do first and receives “consent.” To make matters worse, the bill does not require schools to teach Colorado law on the topic. Children in Colorado, like every state, are legally incapable of giving consent in most circumstances. Under Colorado law, a child under the age of 15 cannot consent to sex with someone four years older, and a child between 15 and 17 cannot consent to sex with someone 10 years older.
5. 1032 overrides local control of school districts, mandating this radical version of sexual education on every public school, including charter schools. Proponents claim that’s not true, yet 1032 specifically requires its radical programming or nothing at all — not even a simple biology-focused sex education program. That’s political spin at its best.
HB 1032’s authoritarian overreach is extremely problematic for school boards — and likely unconstitutional. The Colorado Constitution clearly gives local school boards the authority over “instruction in the public schools of their respective districts.”
HB 1032 assumes that the State Legislature knows better than parents and locally elected boards what sexual values and sex acts that children should be exposed to and consent to.
When you wash the political spin off 1032 and buff out the legalese in its amendments, this bill is still just a lemon with a lot of broken parts being hawked by a used car salesman. The problem is, this lemon carries Colorado’s children unrestrained in the backseat, and they stand to be seriously harmed when this lemon inevitably goes off a cliff on Independence Pass.
Autumn Leva is Vice President of Strategy for Colorado, a Springs-based Family Policy Alliance. Debbie Chaves is Executive Director of Colorado Family Action, which is actively lobbying against HB1032