Colorado: Some in No Sex-Ed Mood: Schools Must Update or Drop Classes
April 20, 2007
Health courses in Colorado's Wray district do not offer condom-use instruction during abstinence-only sex education, according to Superintendent Ron Howard. The program also does not provide information about forms of contraception, including emergency contraception, he said.
However, under a new measure Gov. Bill Ritter will likely sign into law, school districts offering sex education will have to teach more than abstinence-only. The measure requires science-based sex education, including instruction on condom use and contraception. In a 2005 Planned Parenthood survey, 85 percent of Colorado school districts offered sex education, among which 30 percent offered solely abstinence-only education.
Rep. Nancy Todd (D-Aurora) advocated for the bill because there are 12,130 teen pregnancies a year in Colorado - more than one each hour.
The need for comprehensive sex education is apparent to Peggy Vigil, health curriculum director for Colorado Springs, where ninth-graders are offered abstinence-based comprehensive sex education. "I had a girl tell me her boyfriend kept using the same [condom] over and over," she said.
"It bothers us the state is wanting to legislate what is being taught in schools about methods of birth control, about sexually transmitted diseases," said George Welsh, superintendent for Center School District. "Why not trust that we in Center? can make this decision on that?" Center is the only Colorado district that accepts federal abstinence-only program funding, and the bill exempts it alone.
Most Republicans fought the bill. "Values are different community by community," said Rep. Rob Witwer (R-Jefferson County). "It just makes sense to allow local communities to teach this very personal subject the way they see fit."
04.15.2007; Jennifer Brown; Karen Rouse