Nearly a month after Governor Phil Murphy announced a state review of controversial and revised education standards – including issues of sexual and gender identity – the public opinion battle has only only intensifies.
Lawmakers from both major political parties have called for a pause to ensure age appropriateness before standards are enacted in classrooms in the fall.
Much attention has focused on a few sample lesson plans developed by the progressive nonprofit Advocates for Youth.
“Rights, Respect, Responsibility is a sex education curriculum that fully meets national standards for sex education,” the Washington, DC-based group states on its website, saying of the sample curriculum “ It is evidence-based, rights-based, and LGBTQ-inclusive.”
Republican state senators responded with a different “three Rs” proposal on April 27 — “Repeal” health education standards, “Replace” lessons on diversity and inclusion under a 2021 law, “Restore” parental control over program decisions.
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising, to see conservatives approach sex ed in the spirit of flippant sarcasm rather than actually working for the health of New Jersey students,” said Advocates for Youth President Debra Hauser. , in a written statement.
“It is sad to see such a forward-thinking state being dragged back into the Dark Ages, the victim of a disinformation campaign that has intentionally misrepresented what is taught in sex education and knowingly misrepresented our 3Rs curriculum” , she continued.
Another ‘r’ word has become common among the turned away – refusing to believe the acting education commissioner when asked at a recent budget hearing about learning standards.
Parents already retain the right to “refuse sex-ed content that conflicts with their moral or religious beliefs,” acting education commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan said.
At least one school district sent a notice home in February reminding guardians they could make such a request.
The Holmdel Drama School superintendent said a signed request and statement of apology should simply be sent to a student’s principal, as reported by Patch.
Student household religious beliefs conflicting with what is — and isn’t — covered in a public school education is by no means a new problem in New Jersey or the rest of the country.
Abstinence only versus comprehensive sex education has been a tried and true argument in public schools for the last century.
In recent years, gender identity and sexual orientation have added a few more layers to potential clashes between science-based approaches and religious beliefs that don’t recognize these issues in the same way.
Another factor amid the widening divide is the ease with which rumors and arguments can be shared and spread on social media.
A single Facebook group, “Team PYC – Protect Your Children – NJ OPEN TEAM” alone has nearly 5,000 members.
“Team PYC is a group of people who want to protect children from the pending LGBT program. We are parents, teachers, school board members, concerned taxpayers, mothers, fathers, church leaders, Christians, believers, Orthodox Jews, Muslims and Coptic Christians,” according to the description of the group.
The Republican “three Rs” plan does not include a 2019 law to make the general school curriculum more LGBTQ-inclusive by portraying historical and influential figures.
At the root of the controversy is the struggle to accommodate and recognize the backgrounds of more than 1.3 million New Jersey students.
“The court repeatedly pointed out that the Constitution prohibits public schools from indoctrinating children in religion. But it’s not always easy to determine exactly what constitutes indoctrination or academic sponsorship of religious activities,” according to the Pew Research Center.
The 2019 Pew Center message refers extensively to issues such as prayer in a school setting, but also comes into play when it comes to talking about the perspective on gender identity and family issues being directly informed by a family’s religious beliefs.
New Jersey encompasses progressive households of different family structures, as well as conservative and religious households that maintain a “nuclear family” view — two married parents of opposite sexes and their children.
Some Republican senators leading the campaign to repeal the standards have criticized links to resources on the state Department of Education website, under “New Jersey Student Learning Standards – Physical Education and complete sanitation.
There is an objection to a link to Rutgers Answer, a national organization that “provides and promotes unfettered access to comprehensive sex education for young people and the adults who teach them.”
The same resource section also includes a link to the Digital Wellness Network and “Love is respect,” a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
“New Jersey was among the first states to mandate sex education in 1980. It was a bold and progressive move that was celebrated statewide,” Hauser continued.
“New Jersey also led the country during the height of the HIV epidemic, implementing innovative policies and providing HIV education to help thwart rising rates – a model that was later emulated throughout. the country.
“We believe young people in NJ deserve honest sex education. We believe they are entitled to the benefit of 40 years of public health research that clearly shows the protective benefits of such education,” the president said. ‘Advocates for Youth.
With previous reports by Michael Symons
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at [email protected]
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A trip to New Jersey doesn’t have to be just the beach. Our state has incredible trails, waterfalls and lakes to enjoy.
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If you descend and encounter an uphill hiker, pull to the side and give the uphill hiker some space. An uphill hiker has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.
Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless marked as an official trail, avoid them. Going off the trail, you risk damaging the ecosystems around the trail, the plants and wildlife that live there.
You also don’t want to disturb any wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.
Cyclists must yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also give in to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you’ll encounter on New Jersey trails.
If you plan to bring your dog on your hike, they must be on a leash and be sure to clean up all pet waste.
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