Hundreds Protest Planned Parenthood Bill to Cut Religion From Sex Ed
On Wednesday, Colorado citizens spent eight hours debating a new Planned Parenthood-backed sex education bill that endorses LGBT lifestyles and forbids any religious or abstinence-first perspective. Hundreds crowded the Colorado State Capitol, mostly in protest of the bill. Some slammed it as an attempt to exile religion from the public square.
"There's a larger effort to remove the faith community from the public square and this is symptomatic of that," Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute and chair of the Western Conservative Summit, told PJ Media.
Hunt tweeted videos of the crowd and told PJ Media that at least 300 were scheduled to testify, mostly against the legislation.
Fox 31 Denver reporter Joe St. George also shared a video of the crowd.
The hearing centered on H.B. 19-1032, which "clarifies content requirements for public schools that offer comprehensive human sexuality education and prohibits instruction from explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals."
The bill also explicitly demands that teachers "not endorse sexual abstinence as the primary or sole acceptable preventive method available to students. Such instruction is not comprehensive and is inconsistent with the requirements of this section." The bill does not require schools to teach this sex ed, but it prevents them from teaching alternatives. At the current time, public schools can teach abstinence-based sex ed with public funds. The bill removes this possibility.
The bill's main sponsors — state Sens. Don Coram (R) and Nancy Todd (D) and state Rep. Susan Lontine (D) — did not respond to PJ Media's requests for comment.
Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, endorsed the bill, as did the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a group increasingly focused on liberal activism more than key American civil liberties like its hallmark issue, free speech.
Hunt argued that the bill "has one purpose, and that's to ban traditional family values from being taught in comprehensive sexual education."
"Only the pro-LGBT perspective is allowed to be taught. You almost have to pretend that a religious viewpoint on human sexuality doesn't even exist — we have to put our heads in the sand," the Centennial Institute director said. "It doesn't just ban the endorsement of religious views, it bans the teaching of them."
Hunt himself testified against the bill on behalf of the Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University's think tank. He gave PJ Media a brief summary of the testimony.
"The bill wants to be 'comprehensive,' but it specifically bans the teaching of a religious perspective. It seeks to be 'culturally sensitive,' but every time it mentions religion, it does so in a derogatory way," he said. "It is neither comprehensive nor culturally sensitive."
"We're not asking the state of Colorado to say the Christian way is the best way," Hunt clarified, noting the problems with any such potential approach. "What do you mean by that? The Presbyterian way?"
"All we're asking them to do is not ban teachers from" presenting the idea that human sexuality flourishes best in the context of one man and one woman pledged to each other for life.
H.B. 19-1032 aims to promote "comprehensive human sexuality education that teaches consent, hallmarks of safe and healthy relationships, self-acceptance, and respect for others."
The Centennial Institute director recalled a pertinent question from state Rep. Mark Baisley (R-Douglas County). "Is it the government's job to determine what is a healthy relationship? Is it the government's job or the parent's job to determine what a healthy relationship is?" the state representative asked.
When an ACLU lawyer admitted that the bill does not aim to define a healthy relationship, Baisley said he would file an amendment to remove the word "healthy" from the bill. The word appears 12 times in the bill (14 in a search, but one instance refers to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey and one in a section of text the bill strikes down).
Besides the fact that millions of Coloradans hold to a religious perspective on sexuality, Hunt insisted that "there's a lot of evidence that a healthy relationship is a one-man, one-woman exclusive relationship." This definition of "healthy" should not be excluded from the outset.
Contrary to the ACLU lawyer's insistence, the bill does attempt to define "healthy relationships," specifically to include same-sex relationships and pro-transgender romances, and excluding any kind of sex ed that would prioritize abstinence — the only surefire way to avoid pregnancy. Indeed, the view of "healthy relationships" that emerges from the bill seems particularly well-suited to the goals of Planned Parenthood.
"I think there's a real sense that Planned Parenthood makes money the more that kids are sexually active," Hunt told PJ Media. "There's no incentive for Planned Parenthood to promote abstinence and all the incentive in the world for kids to engage in unhealthy behavior and for Planned Parenthood to take care of the consequences."
Worse, the bill explicitly mandates that the 13-person sex ed oversight committee must include representatives of "an organization serving the needs of youth of color," an "organization serving the needs of immigrants," and an "organization serving the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth." Most organizations of this kind lean Left, and there are no Right-leaning kinds of organizations mandated on the oversight committee.
In true intersectional fashion, the bill also mandates that 7 of the oversight committee members must be "members of groups of people who have been or who might be discriminated against because of disability, race, creed, color, gender, gender expression, immigrant status, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, marital status, religion, or age." For some reason, I doubt a conservative Christian would be accepted on the premise that people like Jack Phillips have faced government discrimination — in the state of Colorado, no less!
While conservatives should be terrified of this far-Left bill, they should also take inspiration from the strong opposition it faced on Wednesday. The Denver Post also reported that hundreds turned out against the bill, mostly to testify against it. The Centennial Institute director recalled one woman declaring that conservatives will no longer stand idly by as the sexual revolution continues to remake society.
"We've let a lot go by, but we're not gonna stand for this anymore," Hunt paraphrased the woman as saying. "Conservatives are not afraid to stand up and speak out."
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.