Denver, CO – In April 2023, House Concurrent Resolution 1004 “Fundamental Rights for Parents,” a resolution to amend the Colorado Constitution was introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives. Yesterday evening, the resolution failed in the House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee with a vote of 3-8. 

One Colorado opposed HCR23-1004 because the resolution would undermine Colorado’s education system, promote censorship, and put vulnerable youth more at risk. Colorado youth and their families deserve honest, accurate, inclusive education and healthcare. In fact, national polling by NPR and Ipsos found that most parents are satisfied with their children’s schools and feel well-informed about controversial topics — in contrast to the messaging of a small minority clamoring for parents’ rights. One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) Coloradans and their families, released the following statements:

“This resolution is an overstep that will restrict the rights of young people and suppress information,” said One Colorado Executive Director Nadine Bridges (she/her). “Our country is facing a mental health crisis and young people, especially LGBTQ+ young people, need support and access to resources more than ever. HCR23-1004 would have caused irreparable harm by amending the Colorado Constitution to favor censorship and invasion of privacy over basic rights. It’s dangerous to try to use Colorado’s Constitution to control what students can and cannot read, what they can and cannot learn, and most troublingly, who they can and cannot be.”

Envision:You CEO Steven Haden (he/him) and mental health therapist with Queer Asterisk also expressed serious concerns about HCR23-1004. According to Haden, “the legislation would fail to provide students with the autonomy they need to make informed decisions about their own recreational and educational choices.” He further added, “that the bill contradicts the principles of healthy child development, as described by Piaget and generally accepted by medical and mental health experts. By depriving minors of the opportunity to make conscientious decisions, the legislation could hinder their ability to become healthy, self-sufficient adults equipped to contribute positively to society.”

“Not only does HC23-1004 undermine young people’s autonomy and privacy in making health care decisions, it is a direct attack on their constitutional right to confidentiality. The bill would drastically impact a young person’s ability to seek reproductive and mental health care, cementing fear as yet another barrier young people must overcome when seeking essential health care,” said Trish Hyde, Denver Regional Lead Organizer for New Era Colorado. “We’re tired of having decisions made for us that don’t represent our experiences. This past election, we saw young people turn out in record numbers to ensure that people who are sitting in seats of power represent their values. New Era Colorado, and the young people we represent, stand firm in the belief that the right to decide our future belongs to us.”

“My role in mental health services, and the role of teachers to offer life-saving community connection through school clubs and affinity spaces allows us to build trust with youth so we can bridge the gap with their parents, and ensure youth can live healthy, vibrant lives,” said Jax Gonzalez, PhD (they/them) representing the St. Vrain Safe Schools Coalition. “HCR-1004 would remove youth’s right to privacy in these spaces, making them unsafe and inaccessible – creating detrimental effects on the mental health of all youth.”

About the Resolution

HCR23-1004 was a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, meaning it would have amended the state constitution. To become law, the resolution first needed to pass the House and Senate, and then be approved by voters in the 2024 General Election. In previous legislative sessions, One Colorado and our partners have defeated every similarly attempted bill, including in 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2022. “Parental rights” as described in these bills include various aspects of increased oversight in a child’s upbringing, education, and health care. The impacts of these bills are as follows: 

Youth Privacy & Safety: 

  • Compromising students’ constitutional right to privacy and the confidentiality of private medical and educational records.
  • Increasing the risk for a student to experience retaliation based on disclosure of data such as LGBTQ+ or disability status, or seeking reproductive health care.

Educational Censorship: 

  • Controlling what youth can and cannot learn in school.
  • Forcing school boards, administrators, and teachers to violate student privacy and trust.
  • Eliminating students’ access to affirming, inclusive educational opportunities, groups, and extracurricular activities where they thrive.

Public Health & Access to Care:

  • Discouraging youth from accessing needed health care and/or mental health support.
  • Increasing negative downstream impacts on individual and community health due to neglected medical and/or mental health care.