Proposed parents’ bill of rights constitutional amendment dies in Colorado Legislature

By: - May 4, 2023 12:00 pm

A view inside the dome at the Colorado Capitol, April 19, 2023. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)

A “parent’s bill of rights” that would give parents full oversight of their children’s education and health care needs, died at the Colorado Legislature during a committee hearing late Tuesday night.

Testimony during a hearing for House Concurrent Resolution 23-1004 before the House State, Civic, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee began with Rep. Brandi Bradley, a Littleton Republican and the sole sponsor of the bill, repeatedly stressing that the proposed amendment to the state Constitution would allow “parents to be parents,” arguing that cultural shifts are being pushed onto children and that adults need to intervene to protect them.

The resolution would ask Colorado voters to approve a wide-ranging measure granting parents more explicit rights relating to the education and care of their children, including oversight over school records, control over medical decisions, and consent in writing for any sort of medical procedure.

“In today’s world, the lessons of school are being pushed aside and invaded by an ideology that children (should) assume the roles once held by responsible adults,” Bradley said in her opening statement. “The state cannot raise a child.”


Several witnesses testified both in support and against the proposed amendment. Seventy-one people originally signed up to testify, but many didn’t show. This was the result, according to Democratic committee Chair Steven Woodrow, of Republican representatives on the floor of the House asking for bill amendments to be read at length, which caused the hearing, originally scheduled for 1:30 p.m., to begin at 6:50 p.m.

Erin Meschke, a Boulder resident and a mother of four, including three adults, argued in favor of the resolution, saying that even with three of her children considered legal adults, she’s still active in many of their life choices.

“When my oldest had some gender confusion in 2020, we did not take the mandatory affirmation stance required of schools and hospitals,” she said. “I know today she is happier because we didn’t go along with her temporary delusion.”

After hearing from parents who were in favor of the resolution, Rep. Scott Bottoms stated his support for the bill, citing the importance of parents through people’s lives.

“I’m going a bit in preacher mode, but parents are necessary for the foundation of culture and the foundation of our society,” Bottoms, a pastor, said.

Other states pass similar bills of rights

Opponents argued the proposed amendment would have a profound effect on children’s mental health and ability to learn.

“Youth today are much more open-minded and have a deep awareness of kindness and empathy,” said Jax Gonzales, a member of St. Vrain Safe Schools Coalition, which focuses on providing safe school environments for LGBTQ+ students. “This can present scary and new ideas for parents to navigate. This bill would prevent (our organization) from getting students the important mental health resources they need.”

Lynn Kutner, a mother whose child identifies as transgender nonbinary, said passing the resolution would put people like her child at “an even higher risk.”

“My child is deeply affected by the recent onslaught on anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans legislation sweeping our nation,” she said. “They’re scared for the kids like them that will be harmed by these hateful policies.”

After testimony was completed, the resolution failed to pass committee, with an 8-3 vote along party lines.

Bradley seemed to acknowledge that the odds of the resolution passing were slim, ending her opening statement by saying, “I know I’ve been sent to the ‘kill committee,’ but I hope you give (parents) a chance to testify.”

While the resolution joins other parental bill of rights measures that failed in states like New Hampshire, states with larger Republican majorities like Florida and Texas have been and are likely to be more successful in granting parents more authority over their children’s privacy and education.

At least one Colorado youth advocacy group remains undaunted in protecting young people’s right to education and body autonomy.

“We’re tired of having decisions made for us that don’t represent our experience,” said Trish Hyde, the Denver regional lead organizer for New Era Colorado, a progressive youth civic engagement organization. “This past election, we saw young people turn out in record numbers to ensure that people who are sitting in seats of power represent our 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.”


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William Oster
William Oster

William Oster was a reporting intern for Colorado Newsline. He's currently a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. He's also the Managing Editor for the CU Independent, the university's student-led newspaper.