Many questions have surfaced regarding Colorado House Bill 19-1032 legislating the content of sex education. Colorado is a local control state outlined in the state constitution meaning principals, parents and community leaders should oversee educational materials. Community members should dictate what is taught. Why does the Colorado State Legislature desire centralized control regarding this issue?
As a medical professional who has studied sexuality education for more than 20 years, I am a subject matter expert regarding this issue. As president of the Center for Relationship Education (CRE), I am committed to teaching research-aligned skills to develop healthy relationships across the country. The REAL (Relationship Education and Leadership) Essentials curricula is not sex education, but, rather, teaches relationship skills to all people, regardless of how they identify or with whom they choose to partner. CRE offers schools educational modules that they can customize to address countless relational and mental health issues. All CRE’s offerings utilize a skills-based approach that is proven to have health benefits when measuring relational wellness outcomes.
The REAL Essentials curricula stays in the human space, highlighting what we all need as part of the human family. We need love, attachment, acceptance, belonging, affirmation, dignity and respect. The inclusivity of programming ensures all students feel safe and included in activities and discussions. CRE utilizes the Socratic Method of teaching, a strategy of asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and drawing out ideas. Sex education is not relationship education. Not all relationships involve sex. Sex, however, is an important and healthy part of a committed romantic partnership, yet it should not be the central theme when educating young adults about healthy connections. Trust, reliance, kindness, emotional safety, care, compassion, commitment, attentiveness, consent, communication, honor, value, dignity and respect also need to be demonstrated in relationships. There must be room in schools to address these interpersonal skills without simply spotlighting sexual activity. We should expand the dialogue to highlight relationship skills. The Center for Relationship Education approach aligns with the public health model, embracing prevention, intervention and treatment as a three-legged stool of optimal health and well-being. CRE’s optional sexual health module incorporates a directive learning approach for optimal wellness, validating the research that sex is best within the context of a lifetime committed partnership, commonly known as marriage. The second component of the public health model is intervention. For adolescents who are sexually active, CRE’s teaches, in a clinical medical one-on-one setting (not in a classroom), the importance of using risk reducers such as condoms and contraceptives This model incorporates sexual cessation support helping a teen analyze the health of their relationship and imparting skills to return to a sexual risk avoidance behavioral choice, should they desire to do so. Since CRE’s REAL (Relationship Education and Leadership) Essentials series of curricula is in 44 states, we have seen the highest need adolescents gravitate toward healthy relationship skills, issues of the heart and the wonder of sex. Perhaps the state Legislature should investigate the essentials of human thriving and flourishing rather than trying to mandate the contents of sex education.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to myrelationshipcenter.org.
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