Two days after the Colorado House of Representatives passed a sex-education bill -- the subject of hours-longs hearings and debate sessions in recent weeks -- opponents already are gearing up opposition for round two, which will take place in the state Senate.
Colorado Springs-based Family Policy Action, which bills itself as "Your Christian Voice at the state Capitol," sent out an alert to its contacts to start putting the pressure on members of the Senate to oppose the bill.
Family Policy Action was founded in 2004 as Focus on the Family Action, the political arm of Focus on the Family. It rebranded as CitizenLink in 2010 and then as Family Policy Action.
The bill has generated hours of testimony, mostly in opposition, including 10 hours in a committee hearing on Jan. 30, as well as six hours of House debate on Feb. 15 ahead of a preliminary House vote.
HB 1032 has been endorsed by the Colorado State Board of Education. It does not require a school district to teach sex education. But those that do could no longer offer an "abstinence-only" curriculum, although abstinence could be taught as part of a comprehensive sex ed curriculum.
The bill also would increase the range of topics covered by sex ed to include consent, birth control and pregnancy, prevention of sexually transmitted disease, "healthy relationships" and sexual orientation.
Under the measure, curriculum could not include religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, nor could it use "shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools ... or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals."
The bill also would prevent public charter schools from waiving the 2013 state law regarding comprehensive sex education.
But the measure is opposed by many conservatives and church groups, including the Colorado Catholic Conference, which said in a statement last month that "local school districts, in conjunction with school boards and parents, are the best vehicle to determine what content standards should be adopted for instruction regarding human sexuality."
The Family Policy Action alert, which was obtained by Colorado Politics, incorrectly states that the bill "forces children as young as nine-years-old to learn graphic details about LGBT 'sexual experiences,'" and doesn't allow parents to opt their children out of sex ed. (In fact, the opt-out provision has been in state law since 2013 and would remain under HB 1032).
It also claims the bill "censors religious beliefs or traditional views on sex and sexuality."
The alert indicates there's hope for killing the bill. "Momentum is building to stop this bill, and the Senate gives more hope to do that. Even in the state house, a Democrat (Donald Valdez), voted against the bill, joining Republicans who were united in opposition."
"In the Senate, we’ll need two Democrats to join all Republicans in opposition if this bill is going to be stopped."
Actually, a Republican -- Sen. Don Coram of Montrose -- is one of the bill's prime sponsors.
The Family Policy Action alert also refers to comments made Tuesday in the House by Democratic Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver, who speaks often about her Christian faith. Tuesday's debate concerned mostly about how the curriculum handles issues of LGBT inclusion.
Herod said Tuesday about the bill that "this is not a conversation about religion versus LGBT people. There are Christians who are LGBT people. ... We cannot continue to use religion to divide us. There is only one judge and he is not in this room, sitting in these chairs. That judge is God and he is in all of us. Do not use religion as a guise for homophobia."
The alert claims Herod had said God "is not in the room," and added that her comments drew gasps and responses. A review of the House video and audiotape did not record any audible gasps, and Herod told Colorado Politics it didn't happen.
Herod, who is lesbian, said she has since received hateful emails referencing her remarks. One, from a Grand Junction man, told her there is no such thing as a Christian lesbian and then said she should not refer to herself as a Christian "because you aren't one."
HB 1032 has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate.