Fears in the sexual assault prevention community that conservative lawmakers might use a child abuse bill by Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, to create an opt-in rather than opt-out provision for general sex ed were relieved today when the bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee.
SB 20 aims to prevent sexual assault against children by offering schools the option to educate kids of all ages that they are “the boss of their body” and should “tell on” anyone who violates their personal space.” The measure is nationally known as “Erin’s Law” after advocate and survivor Erin Merryn.
Newell offered as amendment, which passed, clarifying that reports of alleged sexual assault all be directed to the state’s new child abuse hotline.
Lawmakers on the Republican-controlled committee complimented Newell on a lengthy negotiation process that brought them all into agreement in supporting the measure.
“Senator Newell, thank you so much for your work on this bill, the powerful testimony you brought to the first committee hearing, your patience in working through [the amendment] and all the conversations you had with members of the committee who had an interest in this bill,” said Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker. “I am proud to vote for SB 20.”
The measure is a deeply personal one for Newell, whose own daughter bravely testified in committee about her experience with sexual assault as a child.
“I did a lot of work with my colleagues to ensure that the two issues [sex ed and sexual assault] were kept separate out of respect for victims and survivors,” said Newell, who teared up after the measure succeeded. “This is such a great tool in preventing future victims and survivors.”
The bill now heads to the Judiciary Committee.