Sexuality, Families, and Abuse Spotlight:

From Haley Anderson.

Our Christian faith and traditions affirm that:

Human sexuality, gender identity, and the need to be in healthy relationships with others are gifts from God in our creation. We are called by our faith to invest ourselves in relationships that are based responsibly in love, mutuality, faithfulness, and creativity. Unfortunately, cycles of abuse, poverty, and illness often hamper the human ability to care for one another and provide safe and supportive environments for family members and loved ones. Scripture calls us to protect those whose family supports have been eroded, and those who are vulnerable due to their gender or age, as can be seen in Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” This is why the Colorado Council of Churches supports legislation that protects foster children, victims of domestic abuse, and advocates for social and communal supports, including housing and mental healthcare, that help families and individuals in their times of need. 

This session there are many opportunities for our legislators to provide greater protection and support to the vulnerable in our society. 

HB22-1038– This bill requires that client-directed counsel be appointed for children or youth 12 years of age or older, as well as allowing the child to be a party in dependency and neglect proceedings. Currently, children have little to no voice in their own futures or relationship to their families, as decisions are made for them without their input. Taking away a child’s agency, especially around such traumatic matters as family abuse and separation, further damages the child and keeps them from developing the confidence needed to make important decisions in life as they grow older. This bill would go a long way in giving children their agency back, and allowing them to have greater control over their own lives, under the advice of a responsible adult advocate. It is now waiting to be heard by the Committee of the Whole. 

HB22-1160– This bill seeks to establish Family Justice Centers that would create a multi-agency cooperation, including social services, legal services, medical services, and counseling in one center. This would be established to meet the needs of victims of domestic or sexual abuse, elders and children who have been neglected, and survivors of human trafficking, in one location. The intent is to reduce the amount of times the survivors of abuse and neglect need to recount their traumatic experiences in order to receive care, and to streamline the process of receiving all the care needed to restore them to justice and health. 

HB22-1169– This bill updates the language of sexual assault to reflect that sexual assault is sexual contact that is made without consent. The current language of our sexual assault legislation uses the language of “submission”, which makes it difficult for juries to determine what classifies as an assault. This bill will make it easier for juries to understand what sexual assault is, which will in turn provide further legal protection for survivors of sexual assault. It is waiting to be heard by the Committee of the Whole. 

HB22-1240– This bill would create a Mandatory Reporter task force that would seek to analyze best practices and provide updated training material to mandated reporters. It also seeks to address the systemic issues that underlie the disproportionate impact of mandatory reporting on families of color and under-resourced communities. Mandatory reporting laws are often confusing, and many fear that reporting will do more harm than good. This bill will update requirements for those that are mandated reporters, and will help to determine best practices that reflect the values of equity and diversity, as well as provide further resources and education on the practice. 

HB22-1245– This bill clarifies language and provides further provisions and protections for youth who are transitioning out of foster care, and youth who are currently in neglect and dependency cases when they turn 18. It seeks to provide further legal counsel as these youth make this transition, and provides housing funds so that they can remain safe and housed in this vulnerable time. 

Advocacy Alert!

  • If you are passionate about making sure our children’s social studies standards remain honest, inclusive, and representative of the diversity of our children, sign this petition to let our State Board of Education know before they take these standards to a vote next month!
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