Visiting the Capitol

A first hand account of the experience testifying for bill BH 19-1032, aiming to expand the curriculum of sex education for students.

Lines+of+people+stand+around+or+leaned+up+against+the+gold+fixtures+and+towering+walls+present+on+the+second+floor+of+Colorado%E2%80%99s+Capitol+building.+On+Jan.+30%2C+2019+over+300+witnesses+came+forth+with+their+opinions+of+Health+Bill+19-1032+in+order+to+influence+the+decision+of+its+passage.+Bente+Birkland+of+Colorado+Public+Radio+in+her+article+%E2%80%9CColorado+Comprehensive+Sex+Ed+Bill+Advances+After+Combative%2C+Explicit+Testimony%E2%80%9D+called+it%2C+%E2%80%9CThe+biggest+hearing+of+the+2019+legislative+session+to+date%E2%80%A6%E2%80%9D.+The+committee+voted+7-4+in+support+of+the+bill%2C+progressing+it+to+the+next+step+in+the+legislative+process.+
Back to Article
Back to Article

Visiting the Capitol

Lines of people stand around or leaned up against the gold fixtures and towering walls present on the second floor of Colorado’s Capitol building. On Jan. 30, 2019 over 300 witnesses came forth with their opinions of Health Bill 19-1032 in order to influence the decision of its passage. Bente Birkland of Colorado Public Radio in her article “Colorado Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill Advances After Combative, Explicit Testimony” called it, “The biggest hearing of the 2019 legislative session to date…”. The committee voted 7-4 in support of the bill, progressing it to the next step in the legislative process.

Lines of people stand around or leaned up against the gold fixtures and towering walls present on the second floor of Colorado’s Capitol building. On Jan. 30, 2019 over 300 witnesses came forth with their opinions of Health Bill 19-1032 in order to influence the decision of its passage. Bente Birkland of Colorado Public Radio in her article “Colorado Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill Advances After Combative, Explicit Testimony” called it, “The biggest hearing of the 2019 legislative session to date…”. The committee voted 7-4 in support of the bill, progressing it to the next step in the legislative process.

Toni Elton

Lines of people stand around or leaned up against the gold fixtures and towering walls present on the second floor of Colorado’s Capitol building. On Jan. 30, 2019 over 300 witnesses came forth with their opinions of Health Bill 19-1032 in order to influence the decision of its passage. Bente Birkland of Colorado Public Radio in her article “Colorado Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill Advances After Combative, Explicit Testimony” called it, “The biggest hearing of the 2019 legislative session to date…”. The committee voted 7-4 in support of the bill, progressing it to the next step in the legislative process.

Toni Elton

Toni Elton

Lines of people stand around or leaned up against the gold fixtures and towering walls present on the second floor of Colorado’s Capitol building. On Jan. 30, 2019 over 300 witnesses came forth with their opinions of Health Bill 19-1032 in order to influence the decision of its passage. Bente Birkland of Colorado Public Radio in her article “Colorado Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill Advances After Combative, Explicit Testimony” called it, “The biggest hearing of the 2019 legislative session to date…”. The committee voted 7-4 in support of the bill, progressing it to the next step in the legislative process.

Toni Elton, Editor in Chief

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The elevator doors peeled open to reveal a sea of people surrounding two meager golden doors. These doors lead into a hearing room for The House of Representatives, where Health Bill 19-1032 was on the floor for discussion before being passed onto the Senate. Over 300 witnesses gathered at the capitol on Jan. 30, 2019 to testify in support or opposition of the bill. Amongst this large amount of people, I was one of many that came to have my voice heard in hopes that the House would pass the bill. I was asked to come and testify for the bill by Mrs. Alison Macklin of Plan Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, after my sex education opinion piece was printed in the second issue of The Guide. I graciously accepted the offer and took to reading through the bill and formulating what I was going to say.

Once I arrived at the Capitol with my speech prepared, I found myself in a herd of people with voices seemingly more forceful and compelling than mine. It was an overwhelming situation-one that I had never experienced before. Many of the opinions that I heard passed from one person to another didn’t resonate with mine. Although my mind was open to understanding their points of view, some of their interpretations of the bill seemed uneducated and over exaggerated.

In general terms (and in my personal interpretation), HB 19-1032 aims to expand the curriculum of sex education that is provided to students. The bill sets up requirements so that consent is a main topic of discussion, information for LGBTQ+ students is provided, and there is more teachings on contraceptives and methods to approach sex safely.

As I was waiting for my panel to be called up, I overheard one woman speak about why she was there to speak against the bill. She said that the bill was going to make it so that sex education was taught to younger children who were not yet responsible enough to handle that information. She was infuriated at the prospect that anyone would want to pass a bill that would allow schools to teach children as young as kindergarten age, how to masturbate. Not anywhere in the entire bill does it entail that kindergarteners will be introduced to a sex education curriculum as the woman had described.

I spoke with another witness that, although had views contradictory of mine, opened up my mind to another opinion and allowed for some common ground to be met. He believed that sex education should not be provided in schools at all, and that the parents should be teaching their children how they want without any say from the government and the educational system. I responded to his claims by saying that I believe parents should be open to talk with their children on the topic of sex and play a prominent role in their education, but that schools should also be a resource for information in order to keep our youth safe. It was interesting to talk with such different types of people that I don’t typically interact with and hear their views on an issue that I’ve really only heard one side of.

A small group of people shuffled out of the hearing room and I was brought in and sat down, awaiting to be called to the table that faced the board members. The panels that spoke before mine, were made up of four people against the bill and then another that included four others who were in support of the bill. Hearing the various interpretations of the bill and what changes people believed it was pushing was interesting to hear, and surprising at times. There were many people with views that varied from mine and at times made me angry or upset, but it was still an eye opening experience to hear from them.

On the panel was another young person named Gianella Millan, who was welcoming and supportive of me as I gave my testimony. She had an amazing testimony where she spoke of her experience with sex ed and how the curriculum was lacking, especially as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. In my testimony I spoke about how in order  to effectively inform a large demographic of students, the bill will incorporate information on LGBTQ+ relationships, in depth teaching on the use of contraceptives and condoms, as well as learning about sexual activity within the context of healthy relationships within the curriculum.

After we spoke, Ginella and I answered a question from one of the members of the board about if we thought this bill would help educate students. We gave our opinions and then we were thanked as the next panel began to speak.

Walking out, other supporters of the bill gave of high-fives, congratulated us, and complemented our testimonies. I was also stopped by a worker for representative Titione, Colorado’s first transgender legislature, who asked for a picture and a quote from my testimony for representative Titone’s newsletter. It was empowering to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who although have never met me before, congratulated me and supported me in order to benefit Colorado’s youth.

The stress induced by the crowds of people and intense opinions of those that didn’t always agree with me were just minor setbacks to my experience and in actuality were not actually negative as opposed to enlightening. Visiting the Capitol and testifying in support of this bill gave value and importance to my input that not a lot of young people get to experience. I am grateful for my experience and happy to say that the bill passed through the first committee, and I may be back to speak at the Senate hearing as well.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email