By Bob Vosseller and Chris Lundy
JACKSON – Although this topic is governed by the Board of Education, the Township Council has been vocal in its opposition to state mandated standards concerning sex education curriculum in New Jersey schools.
“This council continues to support parental rights against the perverse sex education curriculum and state education bureaucracy Governor Phil Murphy and his state Democrat legislature is pushing that all elementary schools should be taught and be indoctrinated about,” Councilman Nino Borrelli said.
“They are off their crazy, progressive rockers. I have two children in the public schools of Jackson that would be forced to be taught this age-inappropriate subject matter over parents’ objections. Make your voices be heard to the school Board because the state certainly isn’t listening,” he added.
In 2020, the state updated their Comprehensive Health and Physical Education guidelines, and it encompasses a great deal more than sex and gender. It is 66 pages. There are entire pages on fitness, and just a few sentences on gender identity, but that is what some parents are concerned about. Other topics include addiction, nutrition, and resolving conflicts.
The state’s guidelines can be found here:nj.gov/education/cccs/2020/2020%20NJSLS-CHPE.pdf
Parents have expressed concerns that the state’s rules are causing students to be “indoctrinated” into lifestyles of which the parents wouldn’t approve, or they say the parents should be the ones having these conversations with the children. Examples of sex ed materials have been spread on social media, regardless of whether they were actually going to be used in a classroom.
Whenever parents bring up these points, school officials throughout Ocean County have continually said that while the state created the guidelines, each district was able to craft their own lessons. There is still an element of home rule.
According to the state document, “Today’s students are continually bombarded with physical, mental, and social influences that affect not only learning in school, but also the lifelong health of the citizens that schools are preparing for graduation. To that end, the New Jersey Student Learning Standards – Comprehensive Health and Physical Education (NJSLS-CHPE) were revised to address the need for students to gain knowledge and skills in caring for themselves, interact effectively with others, and analyze the impact of choices and consequences.”
One philosophy of education is that teachers shouldn’t just teach facts, but should create lifetime learners – something that lasts after graduation. One of the goals here is to create healthy exercise and nutrition habits for the rest of their lives.
There is language about “health literacy,” and that if someone doesn’t know anything about health issues, then they won’t know where to turn if something is wrong. They might not even know if something is wrong. Thus, there are topics for older kids about consent, sexting, and sexual assault.
The lessons are split across age levels. The youngest is “by the end of 2nd grade.” The other steps are “end of 5th,” “end of 8th,” and “end of 12th.”
For example, the core idea for sexual health by the end of 2nd grade is “Every individual has unique skills and qualities, which can include the activities they enjoy such as how they may dress, their mannerisms, things they like to do.” By 5th grade, that has evolved into “All individuals should feel welcome and included regardless of their gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.” The points under that, for end of 5th grade, are: “Describe gender-role stereotypes and their potential impact on self and others; Differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity; Demonstrate ways to promote dignity and respect for all people (e.g. sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, differing ability, immigration status, family configuration).”
One point of contention for some parents is that by the end of 8th grade, one of the guidelines is “Define vaginal, oral, and anal sex.”
The state’s guidance is based on best practices from throughout the nation. Educators have said that creating a place where schools welcome everyone regardless of gender identity will reduce suicide, drug abuse, and other harmful actions of teens who feel they don’t belong. In this case, it’s literally life or death for kids going through tough times.
Children are being asked to “respect and accept differences of an individual’s race, religion, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic background, and perspectives of health-related decisions.”
The state requires that schools include the contributions of African Americans, people with disabilities, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people “in an appropriate place.”
New Jersey education officials pointed out recently that state education standards are considered individually by each school district during the crafting of the school year’s lesson plans. The process calls for them to then be approved by each respective school board prior to being taught in schools.
Chisholm noted that Borrelli had “highlighted some of the nonsense going on in Trenton with the adoption of some of the sex education rules for our children and while that is disgraceful enough as it is you may have also heard about the shortages of bus drivers and teachers.”
“Once again, Mr. Murphy and the left have decided they want to close down our schools, create a problem, tell teachers they have to either retire or get fired because they didn’t get five, six, seven, eight shots and now there is a shortage of about a million teachers and what are we going to without all these teachers so now they are looking for people who are qualified, not qualified, have a certificate, don’t have a certificate, retired please come back,” the councilman added.
Chisholm said, “they create a problem without ever thinking about the repercussions and here we are reaping what they sow.”