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Comprehensive Sex Ed Saved This Teen's Life. Could It Help Others?

Courtesy of Suzanne Laffely
Elizabeth Laffely is a rising senior at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs

When Elizabeth Laffely, a transgender student from Colorado Springs, testified in support of Colorado's controversial sex ed bill earlier this year, she wanted to send a clear message to state lawmakers: If her mom hadn't put her through a comprehensive sex ed course in eighth grade, she might not be alive today.

"I guarantee that I would not be sitting here in front of you," Laffely said during her testimony in February. "In fact, I probably would be in a grave with a gravestone of a name that I do not recognize."

Colorado is the only state in the country that does not have a health graduation requirement for high school students. Earlier this month, Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1032, strengthening the state's sex ed standards for school districts that decide to teach it.

The new legislation includes a reaffirmation of a 2013 law requiring schools to teach sex ed that "includes resources, references, and information that are meaningful to the experiences and needs of communities of color;  immigrant communities;  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities;  people with physical or intellectual disabilities;  people who have experienced sexual victimization;  and others whose experiences have traditionally been left out of sexual health education, programs, and policies."

Laffely shared her story with KUNC reporter Matt Bloom in collaboration with the WNYC Studios podcast Nancy.

I cover a wide range of issues within Colorado’s dynamic economy including energy, labor, housing, beer, marijuana, elections and other general assignment stories.