The Sad Spectacle Of Yesterday’s Sex Ed Hearing

UPDATE: Into the self-immolating spotlight steps, you guessed it, Rep. Lori Saine:

Here you have arguably Colorado’s most infamously shameful Republican, just days off her own national news ridicule for falsely claiming that “whites and blacks were lynched in nearly equal numbers,” complaining about “radical notions of sexuality and gender” and absurdly claiming that “Democrats are compounding their over-reach” by limiting testimony than in fact continued until nearly midnight! Even worse, the photo Saine is using (originally via House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s front group Advancing Colorado) was taken from a totally unrelated and highly emotional floor speech by Rep. Buckner, recounting racism she personally endured during last year’s commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the House.

On a day full of small-minded outrages, Rep. Lori Saine manages to stand out. Again.


Packed hearing yesterday for HB19-1032.

The main event yesterday at the Colorado Capitol was a marathon hearing in the House Health and Insurance Committee that ran until almost midnight taking public testimony on a single bill: House Bill 19-1032, “concerning comprehensive human sexuality education.” Here’s the bill summary:

The bill 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.

Conservative Republicans organized by Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute delivered an unexpectedly large crowd of witnesses to testify against this bill. After over 300 people (not a misprint) signed up to testify, committee chair Rep. Janet Buckner announced her intention to cut off testimony after seven and a half hours, but in the end testimony went on until just before midnight before the bill was finally advanced on a 7-4 party line vote.

In that time yesterday into early this morning, Democratic lawmakers on this committee were subjected to what we can only describe as the worst verbal abuse from witnesses we’ve perhaps ever seen–easily as bad as the invective from opponents of the gun safety bills passed in 2013, and offensive in a way that should trouble any but the most hardened bigot against LGBT people. Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports:

Many who spoke against the bill went well beyond the language of the legislation to discuss the appropriateness of gay and bisexual relationships, religion, and family values. People described the sorts of sexual acts they didn’t want their children to learn about. One woman brought out a condom and compared the curriculum to how pedophiles groom their victims. Others thought the bill would normalize deviant sexual acts and equated supporting it to child abuse and promoting a homosexual agenda in Colorado.

“It’s a desperate life for this gay lifestyle and the lifespan is short,” Catherine Goodwin told committee members.

“Why are you experimenting with these children, some younger than teenagers, and why are you messing with their minds with information that is basically going to be abnormal?”

The Denver Post’s Anna Staver:

“If you’re for House Bill 1032, then you’re for exposing 9-year-olds to sexually explicit techniques,” said James Rea, a father of four. “We don’t want to expose our children to this kind of forced sexual education.”

But Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, flatly rejected that characterization of her bill.

“No, this bill does not do that,” Lontine said. “There is nothing in this bill that says that. That is not the intent of this bill whatsoever.” [Pols emphasis]

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd:

“There’s a lot misinformation out there about what this is. This is absolutely not a mandate,” said Alison Macklin with Planned Parenthood.

She says sex education in schools is already happening. What changes is what’s included in that education. The bill requires information about all forms of pregnancy prevention not just abstinence, what’s consent and what’s sexual assault, and safe and healthy relationships whether they be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender…

The bill doesn’t mandate sex education, but in schools that do teach it, it must be comprehensive as defined the bill. It also makes pregnancy education optional, but if it’s taught, it must include adoption and abortion.

Parents can opt their kids out of the education without penalty.

The worst of the insults from the crowd were directed against two legislators: Rep. Buckner, the committee chair, smeared as a “pedophile,” and especially freshman Rep. Brianna Titone, the first transgender lawmaker in Colorado history. By all accounts the objectionable and explicit condemnations of the LGBT “lifestyle” from witnesses were most frequently directed at Rep. Titone personally via gestures and eye contact. Given that a large amount of the testimony against House Bill 19-1032 had nothing to do with the actual effects of the legislation, this was personal abuse that no decent person should wish on anyone, to include political adversaries.

The clear intent of yesterday’s mobbing of this hearing by the religious right was to push a sense of outrage over Democratic control of the legislature and the state’s history-making new governor who happens to himself be a gay man. But rather than supporting the “overreach” narrative Republicans are desperate to see take hold as they hype the threat of recalls and political destruction for Democrats after their own historic defeat just last year, this hearing mostly helped cement the image of Colorado Republicans as the party of the hateful political fringe.

The debate over House Bill 19-1032 will not mark the beginning of any Republican comeback in Colorado. If anything, we are seeing luridly demonstrated once again why Colorado Republicans lost–and why they are fated to keep losing.

6 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. davebarnes says:

    Why is this even a thing?
    Shouldn't they be debating roads, bridges, taxes, healthcare, clean air & water?

  2. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    The Centennial Institute used an e-mail alert that was full of Jeff Hunt's usual b.s. to stir people up. I get their e-mails because I attended a few sessions about public lands at the 2017 Western Conservative Summit. Here was the headline.

    "URGENT: Planned Parenthood seeking to ban traditional family values from Colorado's schools."

    Looking to next year, my party has two hugely problems: Donald Trump as president, and the control of much of the party grassroots by the religious right.

    The religious zealots still don’t get it that the large majority of Colorado citizens don’t want the dogma that they keep trying to sell. As an example, the three personhood initiatives; 2008, 2010, 2014; designed to ban abortion and most forms of contraception; failed by an average 30-70% vote.

  3. 2Jung2Die says:

    Plus, I'd like to see a Saine analysis as to how National Popular Vote would give away "our voice." Colorado's a rapidly growing state – we'll certainly have 3 million voters or more in 2020, NPV won't go into effect right away, and projections have us adding several million over the coming decades. If we keep getting bluer we might not be a battleground state in presidential elections much longer – which means why pay attention if you only care about the Electoral College? Show me a campaign strategist who doesn't want to go after some share of, say, 3.5-4 million future CO voters, and I'll show you a strategist I don't want to hire. Now, if "our voice" really means the voice of Wyoming, she might have a point.

  4. mamajama55 says:

    Thankfully, some things have changed in 50 years.

    And some things have not changed.

    Students still can't get birth control prescriptions or exams at school based clinics. They can't get condoms at school, even if they're using and discarding them in the school parking lot during prom. They may or may not get a "health" class which tells students how to prevent pregnancy and STDs. The school counselor may or may not be trained to talk nonjudgmentally about kids' feelings of not fitting into their assigned gender or sexual preference roles.

    But….Thankfully, Colorado students no longer get failed "abstinence education". Be honest – How many of those "abstinence pledged teens" were pregnant when they got married? I'd bet on "most of them"….

    And with this HB19-032 legislation, the gay and questioning kids won't get stigmatized or shamed in that health class. "Fagg*t" will join "N*gg*r" as forbidden insults, instead of casual jock parlance.

    40% of LGBTQ kids won't consider suicide as an alternative to their bullied existence.

    I'll leave you with something heartwarming, to show how things have changed in 50 years. This is a video of a celebration of a music teacher's engagement party – to his male partner. Original Facebook video from Hingham Public School in Massachusetts.



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