Dueling protests over sex ed curriculum swirled outside of a Delta County School Board meeting on May 20, 2021. As people danced in a gay-pride parade, conservative protesters listened to preaching from the bed of a pickup truck. (Nancy Lofholm, The Colorado Sun)

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Three Democrats on the Colorado State Board of Education won’t vote for a long-awaited update to state social studies standards if LGBTQ people are excluded, they said at a Tuesday meeting.

The seven-member State Board plans to take until the end of the year to finalize the update after the board has been inundated with conflicting public comment from parents, teachers, school administrators, and advocates.

Among the most contentious issues is whether to include at all grade levels references to gay, lesbian, and transgender people. The committee charged with making recommendations removed all references below the fourth grade in response to backlash from both conservative parents and school administrators worried about local community reaction.

While Board Chair Angelika Schroeder said the State Board needs to find a way to assuage those concerns, the three other Democrats were adamant the references be restored.

“I want them back in,” said board member Rebecca McClellan, a Littleton Democrat. “It is inappropriate to single out one discriminated-against group from the standards. It gives the impression they should not exist, and that’s harmful, not just to LGBTQ students but to all students.”

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Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat

Bureau Chief — Chalkbeat Colorado Email: emeltzer@chalkbeat.org