At its Friday, May 21, 2021 meeting, the Delta County School Board unanimously passed Resolution 2021-15, blocking students who attend Delta County public schools from being able to access a comprehensive, medically-accurate sexual education. People who attended the meeting reported that the School Board did not give the public any notice about its intent to vote on the resolution at the meeting. According to KVNF Radio, the school board had promised it would circulate a questionnaire and host a public meeting about the topic, but it did not.
Supporters of comprehensive sex ed were not allowed to speak at the meeting
Marisa Edmondson, an alumni of Delta County District schools and supporter of sex ed who attended the meeting said “None of our colleagues were even able to speak in public comment as the District limited it so only the ultra-conservatives who are against sex Ed [could speak].’
Comments at the meeting were fraught with ignorance, misconception and misunderstanding.
One speaker, Janet Decker of Cedaredge, said that a medically-accurate sex-ed curriculum “could cause kids to become sexual and question their gender.” Jason Neely of Austin said medically-accurate sexual education “isn’t sexual education, it’s social engineering and political gerrymandering.” Bradford Davis said he didn’t want to see kids “brainwashed with muddy waters” that would “pollute our children” and said he didn’t want to see teachers forced to leave the District because they would be “forced to teach something abhorrent.” Former Delta County School Board member Cathy Svenson said she doesn’t want Delta schools to “teach people they can switch sexes.” Svenson likened transgenderism to “putting diesel in a gas engine.”
Svenson, by the way, is the infamous former Delta County School Board member who in 2013 gained notoriety nationally and internationally for saying transgender students should be castrated before being permitted to use the restrooms in public schools. She became known as “The Castration School Board Member” of Delta County, Colorado. Svenson made her comments after the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled that a 6-year-old transgender student could use the girls’ restroom at her school.
In its May 3 issue, the Delta County Independent tried to dispel rampant misunderstanding in Delta regarding the state’s new sex-ed law by running a myths-vs-facts column debunking locally held misunderstandings and misconceptions about the law.
Apparently it had little effect.
In its resolution issued May 21, the Delta County School Board said:
• No changes are planned to the District’s K-12 health curriculum and the District is not adopting a Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education (CHSE) curriculum.• The School District will continue to offer health instruction developed with local health providers and instructors to meet the needs of our students and adhere to relevant Colorado Health Academic Standards.
Delta County schools have used shame-based, abstinence-only “sex ed” programs by Christian missionary Shelly Donahue
As revealed in 2016, sexual education in the Delta County School District has consisted of the religiously-based abstinence-only program by Shelly Donahue, whose speaking honorarium was paid by the Christian missionary group that runs the Delta Pregnancy Center. Donahue gives a shame-based, abstinence-only program in which she likens girls’ brains to cooked spaghetti and girls who have had sex to used packing tape and dirty diapers. Donahue likens girls to slow cookers and boys to microwave ovens.
The Delta County School District was warned in 2016 that Donahue’s presentations violated the law regarding separation of church and state, and ordered them to stop using her.
The District was sued over the persistent Christian proselytizing in Delta County public schools. The district settled that case.
Is Delta County School District breaking the law again?
Delta County School District is poised to break a new state law by saying it will continue to offer “health instruction” that includes instruction on preventing sexually-transmitted diseases, but saying it won’t include the comprehensive, medically-accurate slate of information that state law now requires.
A bill sponsored by Montrose/Ouray County State Senator Don Coram and signed into law by Colorado Governor Jared Polis on May 31, 2019, aims to end use of abstinence-only programs like kind the Delta County School District has long relied on, and assure that if students are taught sex ed in Colorado public schools at all, that the instruction is thorough, medically-accurate and includes specific factual information.
The law says that if a school teaches sex ed, it must “NOT EMPHASIZE SEXUAL ABSTINENCE AS THE PRIMARY OR SOLE ACCEPTABLE PREVENTIVE METHOD AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS.” The law also requires that if a school district offers human sexuality instruction of any type, “THE INSTRUCTION MUST BE COMPREHENSIVE AND MEET THE COMPREHENSIVE HUMAN SEXUALITY EDUCATION CONTENT REQUIREMENTS.” The requirements include “medically accurate information about methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and the link between human papilloma virus and cancer.” They must also tell students what constitutes consent and withdrawal of consent for sexual activity, give them complete information on all FDA-approved forms of contraception including barrier methods like condoms, information on how to avoid making stereotypes and assumptions regarding people’s sexuality or sexual intentions, safe haven laws, and more. It also prohibits “use of shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools,” like the kind Shelly Donahue uses in her presentations. It also prohibits employing gender stereotypes and “excluding the health needs of intersex or LGBT individuals.”
Marisa Edmondson, a Latinx woman who spent 12 years attending schools in the Delta County School District and graduated from Paonia High School in 2016, reports that as many as 25% of students in the District identify as lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ), and that they report being bullied, harassed and worse.
We’ll have to watch and see if this rogue school district keeps disobeying laws like they have in the past.