Colorado Revised Statutes Title 22 Education § 22-1-128 Comprehensive human sexuality education--legislative declaration--definitions--guidelines and content standards

(1)(a) The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:

(I) Colorado youth have a right to receive medically and scientifically accurate information to empower them to make informed decisions that promote their individual physical and mental health and well-being;

(II) This right applies to all youth, regardless of geographic location, ethnic or racial background, family income, physical or intellectual ability, sexual orientation, or gender expression;

(III) Parents, caregivers, community organizations, and other trusted adults serve as an essential part of the education process and may rely on health, education, and other professionals to provide evidence-based information that empowers youth to make decisions that are consistent with their own values and life goals;

(IV) The information, education, and skills that Colorado youth receive during their formative years provide the foundation for responsible decision-making about personal behaviors and important life decisions throughout the rest of their lives;

(V) It is important for youth to understand the consequences of the inconsistent or improper use of sexual abstinence, birth control, or condoms.  All comprehensive human sexuality education must stress the importance of the correct and consistent use of sexual abstinence, birth control, and condoms to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections;

(VI) The decisions an individual makes regarding his or her sexual and reproductive health impact the public health and welfare of the community in which the individual lives;

(VII) When compared to the national average, Colorado has a lower rate of teen births and a lower rate of certain sexually transmitted infections, according to the centers for disease control and prevention and the Colorado department of public health and environment.  In spite of this data, Colorado youth still face many barriers in obtaining the medically accurate information and resources they need to make informed and responsible decisions and lead healthy lives.

(VIII) According to the centers for disease control and prevention, evidence-based, medically accurate, age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and comprehensive sexuality education programs have been proven to help youth delay the onset of sexual activity, decrease the frequency of sexual activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase condom and contraceptive use;

(IX) Sexual violence and teen dating violence is a pervasive and serious public health issue, placing teen victims at increased risk for adolescent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, low academic performance, truancy, dropout, and other harmful behaviors;

(X) According to the centers for disease control and prevention, these changes in behavior help prevent unintended pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections;

(XI) The Colorado general assembly passed House Bill 07-1292, enacted in 2007, to establish content standards for the provision of human sexuality courses taught in public schools throughout the state;

(XII) The Colorado general assembly passed the “Public Health Reauthorization Act”, Senate Bill 08-194, enacted in 2008, to create a statewide public health improvement plan to eliminate geographic-based and other disparities in the accessibility and availability of services through the state's public health agencies;

(XIII) The Colorado general assembly passed the “Preschool to Postsecondary Education Alignment Act”, Senate Bill 08-212, enacted in 2008, which states that all school district standards must meet or exceed established state standards, and that school districts must adopt curriculum and assessments that are consistent with these standards;  and

(XIV) In 2009, the Colorado state board of education adopted academic content standards for comprehensive health education that support youth in making informed and responsible decisions about their health and in having access to the tools they need to live healthy lives.

(b) The general assembly further finds and declares that:

(I) There is a need to continue and expand efforts to ensure that all young people in Colorado have access to evidence-based, medically accurate, culturally sensitive, and age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education, information, and resources to guide them in making informed decisions about their health and relationships.  Additionally, schools need to promote healthy relationships through age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and comprehensive human sexuality education, including providing information and resources for early intervention and response strategies to teen dating violence.

(II) The state of Colorado and eligible state agencies and other organizations must pursue funding and other federal support to implement comprehensive human sexuality education programs;

(III) The provisions of sexual and reproductive health education that incorporate comprehensive, evidence-based, culturally sensitive, and age-appropriate standards can result in youth delaying sexual activity until they are ready, avoiding unwanted consequences of sexual behavior, learning medically accurate information about their health, and promoting positive youth-friendly messages concerning growth, development, body image, gender roles, and all aspects related to healthy, safe relationships and sexual behavior;  and

(IV) Broad-based community partnerships are essential when developing policies and implementing programs that affect the sexual and reproductive health of Colorado's youth.

(2) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Age-appropriate” means topics, messages, and teaching methods suitable to a particular age or age group, based on developing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral capacity typical for the age or age group.

(b) “Comprehensive human sexuality education” means medically accurate information about all methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and the link between human papillomavirus and cancer, and other types of cancer involving the human reproductive systems, including prostate, testicular, ovarian, and uterine cancer.  Methods must include information about the correct and consistent use of abstinence, contraception, condoms, other barrier methods, and other prevention measures.  Additional contents of comprehensive human sexuality education must include:

(I) Encouraging family communication about sexuality;

(II) Focusing on the development of safe relationships, including the prevention of sexual violence in dating and teaching young people how to recognize and respond safely and effectively in situations where sexual or physical violence may be occurring or where there may be a risk for these behaviors to occur;  and

(III) Teaching young people how alcohol and drug use can affect responsible decision-making.

(c) “Culturally sensitive” means the integration of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards, requirements, policies, practices, and attitudes used to increase the quality of services.  “Culturally sensitive” includes resources, references, and information that are meaningful to the experiences and needs of communities of color;  immigrant communities;  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities;  people with physical or intellectual disabilities;  people who have experienced sexual victimization;  and others whose experiences have traditionally been left out of sexual health education, programs, and policies.

(d) “Evidence-based program” means a program that:

(I) Was evaluated using a rigorous research design, including:

(A) Measuring knowledge, attitude, and behavior;

(B) Having an adequate sample size;

(C) Using sound research methods and processes;

(D) Replicating in different locations and finding similar evaluation results;  and

(E) Publishing results in a peer-reviewed journal;

(II) Research has shown to be effective in changing at least one of the following behaviors that contribute to early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV:

(A) Delaying sexual initiation;

(B) Reducing the frequency of sexual intercourse;

(C) Reducing the number of sexual partners;  or

(D) Increasing the use of condoms and other contraceptives.

(e) “Positive youth development” means an approach that emphasizes the many positive attributes of young people and focuses on developing inherent strengths and assets to promote health.  Positive youth development is culturally sensitive, inclusive of all youth, collaborative, and strength-based.

(f) “Sexual abstinence” means not engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse or genital skin-to-skin contact.

(3) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (6) of this section, a school district, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school that offers a planned curriculum that includes comprehensive human sexuality education shall provide to the parent or guardian of each student, prior to commencing the planned curriculum:

(a) Written notification of the ability to excuse a student, without penalty or additional assignment, from that portion of the planned curriculum that includes comprehensive human sexuality education, upon the written request of the student's parent or guardian;  and

(b) A detailed, substantive outline of the topics and materials to be presented in that portion of the planned curriculum related to comprehensive human sexuality education.

(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require an act or procedure in addition to the signature of the parent or guardian to excuse a student from a planned curriculum related to comprehensive human sexuality education.

(5) Each school district board of education, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school is encouraged to disseminate policies or instructions to the public schools of the school district, or board of cooperative services, or appropriate staff of the charter school or institute charter school to ensure the implementation of the provisions of this section in a manner that will not draw undue attention to, nor cause undue embarrassment for, students excused from a planned curriculum related to comprehensive human sexuality education.

(6) Except as described in subsection (9) of this section, a school district, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school that offers a planned curriculum related to comprehensive human sexuality education must, in offering such a curriculum, maintain established requirements for the comprehensive human sexuality curriculum.  These requirements must:

(a) Encourage parental involvement and family communication;

(b) Include medically accurate information about methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and the link between human papillomavirus and cancer.  Methods shall include information about the correct and consistent use of abstinence, contraception, condoms, and other barrier methods.

(c) Include instruction to help students develop skills for making responsible and healthy decisions about human sexuality, personal power, boundary setting, developing safe and healthy relationships, and resisting peer pressure, including how to avoid:

(I) Making unwanted verbal, physical, and sexual advances;  and

(II) Making assumptions about a person's supposed sexual intentions based on that person's appearance;

(d) Include discussions and information on how to recognize and respond safely and effectively in situations where sexual or physical violence may be occurring or where there may be a risk for these behaviors to occur;

(e) Include discussion of how alcohol and drug use impairs responsible and healthy decision-making;

(f) Be comprehensive, age-appropriate, evidence-based, culturally sensitive, inclusive of a positive youth development framework, and medically accurate;

(g) Provide instruction about the health benefits and potential side effects of using contraceptives and barrier methods to prevent pregnancy, including instruction regarding emergency contraception and the availability of contraceptive methods;  and

(h) For school districts that have established a character education program pursuant to section 22-29-103 , promote the guidelines of behavior established in the character education program.

(7) Nothing in subsection (6) of this section shall be interpreted to prohibit discussion of health, moral, ethical, or religious values as they pertain to comprehensive human sexuality, healthy relationships, or family formation.

(8) Public schools, school districts, boards of cooperative services, charter schools, and institute charter schools are encouraged to involve teachers, school nurses, parents, and community members in the development of the requirements for comprehensive human sexuality curriculum required by subsection (6) of this section and to integrate available community resources into programs related to comprehensive human sexuality education.

(9) A school district, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school that has received, prior to July 1, 2013, direct or indirect funding from the federal government for the provision of an abstinence education program pursuant to 42 U.S.C. sec. 710 is not required to adopt requirements for comprehensive human sexuality curriculum for the provision of such instruction as described in this section for the year or years for which the school district, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school received such funding.  On July 1, 2013, or thereafter, a school district, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school shall not use any direct or indirect funding from the federal government for the provision of an abstinence education program pursuant to 42 U.S.C. sec. 710 .  A school district, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school may use federal moneys for human sexuality education, as long as the human sexuality program of the school district board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school meets the comprehensive human sexuality education model set forth in this section.

(10) Nothing in this section shall require amending any content standards related to comprehensive human sexuality education developed by the department and adopted by the state board prior to July 1, 2013.

(11) The provisions of this section shall not apply to students in kindergarten through third grade unless the content of the instruction relates to personal hygiene, healthy habits, respecting personal space and boundaries, interpersonal communication skills, and personal safety, as identified in the content standards developed by the department and adopted by the state board.


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