I attended last week’s hearing on House Bill 1032, which would greatly alter the standards for sex education in Colorado’s public schools — including all charter schools. Colorado Politics’ original article on the hearing was disappointing, as it did not capture all the facts or present both sides (Changes to state sex-ed curriculum advance in raucous late-night House committee hearing…,” Jan. 30). With the sweeping changes proposed by HB 1032, Colorado parents deserve all the facts, not only some.
Thousands of parents, teachers, experts in child education, attorneys, and religious leaders across our state are actively opposing this bill. As an expert in child education, I provided testimony at the hearing describing the emotional and psychological trauma that children experience when they are involuntarily exposed to sexually explicit concepts. I also testified on behalf of those of us with traditions in Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism and how this bill would be violating a very large population of constituents’ beliefs.
The initial CP article mentioned that two overflow rooms were full of citizens, plus a few gathered across the street in the LSB building. However, according to others in the Capitol, a total of seven overflow rooms were open due to the outpouring of citizens showing up.
The Capitol has rarely seen such united opposition to a bill. No doubt many Coloradans had to take a day off work – possibly unpaid – to testify.
And yet nowhere in the report published the next morning was a quote from even one of the hundreds opposed to the bill who rallied in the committee room, across the street, in multiple other rooms, and in the halls of the Capitol. While an updated version of the Colorado Politics report later in the day did include some of their perspective, the earlier version of the story contained not a single quote from a multitude of Colorado parents, educators, attorneys, and religious leaders who are solidly united in opposition to this dangerous bill.
The CP article zeroed in on Christians and faith leaders who testified in favor of the bill, ignoring the multitude of Christians and faith leaders who came in peaceful force to oppose it. There was a singular mention of one Catholic priest who opposed the bill. Even in this mention, the reporter provided only a paraphrase of the priest’s answer when he was aggressively questioned by state Rep. Brianna Titone. The reporter briefly mentioned that Titone’s question about the priest engaging in sex “drew howls from the audience.” In reality, the citizens in the room gasped in shock that a religious leader who represents 1.2 billion people worldwide would be so openly disrespected by a legislator who ought to abide by basic decorum. The crowd clapped in honor of the priest, despite the ban on clapping enacted by committee Chairwoman Janet Buckner.
Many Colorado parents object to their children learning in school about the “sexual experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals,” as this bill requires. Multiple educators testified that this bill endangers the psychological health of young children. The American College of Pediatricians describes at length how the ideology implicit in this kind of bill is dangerous for children and may even be considered “child abuse.” (See: http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-ideology-harms-children.)
The article names at least three organizations that showed up to support the bill, but not a single one of the many statewide organizations whose representatives showed up to oppose the bill is specifically named. Noticeably absent from the article is the fact that Planned Parenthood — a controversial group — is one of the main drivers behind the bill. This fact was admitted at the hearing and discussed by several witnesses both in favor and in opposition and yet appears nowhere in the article. Colorado parents deserve to know that Planned Parenthood — which is known across the nation for graphically inappropriate sex instruction — wants to teach their children.
As the media continue to cover HB 1032, I respectfully urge them to listen to the voices of Colorado parents, educators, attorneys and religious leaders of many diverse backgrounds who stand in opposition. We love children; we care for their minds and their health, and our reasoning and evidence deserve to heard.
Dr. Karuna Bowen
The author holds a doctorate in intercultural studies with a focus in counseling; a master’s degree in elementary education with studies in child development and curriculum development, and a bachelor’s in communications and media. She is also a parent of three children in Colorado public schools.