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Policies and Guidelines for Colorado Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Standards and Instruction
What are the relevant statutes that guide Comprehensive Health Education?
See Senate Bill 23-023 below for new legislation regarding CPR and AED instruction enacted in 2023.
CRS 22-7-1005 Preschool through Elementary and Secondary Education Standards
The State Board of Education is required to adopt standards.
CRS 22-7-1013 Local Education Providers Preschool through Elementary and Secondary Education Standards
Districts are required to adopt education standards that meet or exceed all areas that the state standards and shall adopt curricula that are aligned with the standards.
CRS 22-25-106 Comprehensive Health Education Act
This statute recommends quality implementation guidelines for comprehensive health education programs. These recommendations include:
- reflect the health issues and values of the community
- establish a comprehensive health education advisory council or in supplementing an accountability committee or other appropriate committee, the board of a school district or board of cooperative services is encouraged to appoint members of the community who represent various points of view within the school district concerning comprehensive health education; however, a majority of the committee shall be comprised of parents of children enrolled in the district. Members may include, but shall not be limited to, parents, a member of the clergy, teachers, school administrators, pupils, health care professionals, members of the business community, law enforcement representatives, senior citizens, and other interested residents of the school district. Districts may add necessary representatives to the school district accountability committee created pursuant to section 22-11-301 or other appropriate committee to address and make recommendations to the school district or board of cooperative services concerning the curriculum or the local comprehensive health education program.
- Districts and board of cooperative services is encouraged to:
(a) Promote parental involvement, promote abstinence from high-risk behaviors, foster positive self-concepts, develop decision-making skills, and provide mechanisms for coping with and resisting peer pressure;
(b) Focus on the dynamic relationship among physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being; and
(c) Integrate available community resources into the educational program.
- Each local comprehensive health education program which is adopted by a school district or board of cooperative services shall include a procedure to exempt a student, upon request of a parent or guardian of such student, from specific portion of the program on the grounds that is contrary to the religious beliefs and teaching of the student or the student's parents or guardians.
- Any local school district of board of cooperative services which adopts a local comprehensive health education program shale at a minimum the following public information requirements are met.
- Written notification of such local comprehensive health education program shall be given to the parents of guardians of all students within such school district or board of cooperative services, including notification that a student is allowed to be exempted.
- The curriculum and materials to be used shall be made available for public inspection at reasonable times and reasonable hours and a public forum to receive public comment upon such curriculum materials shall be held.
Senate Bill 19-025 adds the following to CRS 22-25-103 Comprehensive health education topic requirements.
If a school district, charter school, institute charter school, or board of cooperative services (school) chooses to provide a local comprehensive health education program pursuant to article 25 of title 22, C.R.S., the school's curriculum must include information relating successor laws, referred to generally as “Safe Haven Laws”, relating to the safe abandonment of a child to a firefighter at a fire station, or to a staff member at a hospital or a community clinic emergency center, within the first seventy-two hours of the child’s life.
New legislation 2023
Senate Bill 23-023 adds the following to CRS 22-25-104 regarding Comprehensive Health Education programs.
Each public school in the state is strongly encouraged to adopt curriculum for instruction to students in grades nine through twelve on cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator. The curriculum must include a training and education program included on the list maintained by the office of cardiac arrest management* pursuant to section 25-53-202, and the instruction must:
(a) incorporate the psychomotor skills necessary to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation; and
(b) use an automated external defibrillator.
(2) as used in this section, "psychomotor skills" means skills using hands-on practice to support cognitive learning.
* The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Office of Cardiac Arrest Management is currently creating a list of programs aligned with the instructional requirements. Anticipated to be available in the Fall of 2023.
CRS 22-1-110. Effect of use of alcohol and controlled substances to be taught.
This statute requires that students, kindergarten through grade twelve, study the effects of alcohol and controlled substances on the human system should be included in other branches of study and taught thoroughly and comparably to other branches of study.
Education regarding human sexuality
CRS 22-1-128 Comprehensive Sexuality Education Act
Overview of legislation House Bill 19-1032 (C.R.S. 22-1-128) The Colorado General Assembly created the comprehensive human sexuality education act which underscores the importance of youth receiving medically and scientifically accurate information to empower them to make informed decisions to promote well-being. House bill 19-1032 does not require sex education, but modifies the grant program and the content requirements for a school district, charter school, institute charter school, or board of cooperative services that offer a comprehensive sexual education curriculum. If a district, charter school, institute charter school, or board of cooperative services chooses to offer comprehensive sexual education, it must be consistent with the content and delivery requirements in the statute. These include medically accurate information about methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and promoting the development of healthy relationships as outlined in the new law. In addition, the act does not require instruction on pregnancy outcome options, however if provided the instruction must cover all pregnancy outcome options.
CRS 22-1-128 Education regarding human sexuality.
(Revised by HB 19-1032)
This statute requires prior written notice to the parents with a detailed, substantive outline of the topics and materials to be presented in the portion of the curriculum that concerns human sexuality. Human sexuality education is not required, however if a school district, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school offers human sexuality instruction the instruction must be comprehensive and must meet the comprehensive human sexuality education content requirements: The provisions of this section do not apply to students in kindergarten through third grade.
(a) Encourage parental involvement and family communication;
(b) Include medically accurate information about methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and the link between human papillomavirus and cancer. Methods taught shall include information about the correct and consistent use of abstinence, contraception, including all FDA approved forms of contraception, condoms, and other barrier methods and must be taught in a cohesive, integrated, objective manner so that youth learn the full scope of preventive methods available to them and are empowered to decide for themselves which preventive methods are best suited for their individual needs, beliefs, and values;
(c) Promote the development of healthy relationships by providing human sexuality instruction on:
(I) How to communicate consent, recognize communication of consent, recognize withdrawal of consent, and understand age of consent as it relates to section 18-3-402;
(II) How to avoid making unwanted verbal, physical, and sexual advances; and
III) How to avoid making assumptions about a person's supposed sexual intentions based on that person's appearance or sexual history; and
(IV) How to avoid pursuing a sexual encounter with a person or persuading a person to participate in a sexual encounter when that person has not provided consent or has withdrawn consent;
(d) Include discussions and information on how to recognize and respond safely and effectively in situations where sexual or physical violence may be occurring or where there may be a risk for these behaviors to occur;
(e) Include discussion of how alcohol and drug use impairs responsible and healthy decision-making;
(f) Be comprehensive, age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, inclusive of a positive youth development framework, and medically accurate;
- “Age-appropriate” means topics, messages, and teaching methods suitable to a particular age or age group, based on developing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral capacity typical for the age or age group.
- “Culturally sensitive” means the integration of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards, requirements, policies, practices, and attitudes used to increase the quality of services. “Culturally sensitive” includes resources, references, and information that are meaningful to the experiences and needs of communities of color; immigrant communities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities; people who are intersex; people with physical or intellectual disabilities; people who have experienced sexual victimization; and others whose experiences have traditionally been left out of sexual health education, programs, and policies.
- “Positive youth development” means an approach that emphasizes the many positive attributes of young people and focuses on developing inherent strengths and assets to promote health. Positive youth development is culturally sensitive, age-appropriate, inclusive of all youth, collaborative, and strength-based.
(g) Provide instruction about the health benefits and potential side effects of using contraceptives and barrier methods to prevent pregnancy, including instruction regarding emergency contraception and the availability of contraceptive methods; and
(h) For school districts that have established a character education program pursuant to section 22-29-103, promote the guidelines of behavior established in the character education program.
(i) Not emphasize sexual abstinence as the primary or sole acceptable preventive method available to students. A school district, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school shall not engage the instructional services of an organization or individual that is a direct or indirect recipient of money from the federal government pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec 710 as amended, because the guidelines of 42 U.S.C. Sec 710 are inconsistent with the provision of this section; and
(j) provide age-appropriate information concerning sections 18-6-401 (9) and 19-3-304.5 or any successor laws, referred to generally as “Safe Haven Laws” relating the safe abandonment of a child to a firefighter at a fire station or to a staff member at a hospital or a community clinic emergency center within the first seventy-two hours of the child’s life.
Comprehensive human sexuality education does not require instruction on pregnancy outcome options. However, if a school district, board of cooperative services, charter school, or institute charter school opts to provide instruction on pregnancy outcome options, the instruction must cover all pregnancy outcome options, including but not limited to adoption, abortion, parenting, and information concerning sections 18-6-401 (9) and 19-3-304.5 or any successor laws referred to as “Safe Haven Laws.” Instruction on pregnancy outcome options must be provided in an objective unbiased manner and must not endorse or favor one or more pregnancy outcome options.
Nothing shall be interpreted to prohibit discussion of health, moral, ethical, or religious values as they pertain to comprehensive human sexuality, healthy relationships, or family formation. Such discussion is encouraged. However, human sexuality instruction must not explicitly or implicitly:
(I) Use shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools;
(II) Employ gender stereotyping language or instructional tools;
(III) Exclude the health needs of intersex individuals or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.
The legislation also states that:
- School districts, BOCES, and charter schools may not engage the instructional services of Title V recipients during the school day.
- The law removes the authority of the State Board of Education from waiving the sex education statute’s requirements for school districts, but does not remove the authority for considering waiver requests from charter schools or institute charter schools. The State Board is still required to vote as a body to either grant or deny the request and only after the request was submitted as part of a contract revision to the state by the charter school’s authorizer.
For full legislation regarding sexual health