Mayor defends calling LGBTQ history curriculum ‘an affront to Almighty God’
The mayor of a Jersey Shore town is defending his position of calling a new state requirement to teach LGBTQ history in middle and high schools "an affront to Almighty God.”
Barnegat Mayor Alfonso Cirulli faced harsh criticism for the comments he made about the law at a township committee meeting Tuesday. The law was signed Jan. 31.
“As an educator, I know kids - 35 years of kids. And they crossed a line. The state crossed a line, even if they were well-intentioned,” Cirulli says.
The new law calls on teachers to work prominent members of the LGBTQ community into lesson plans by the 2020 school year.
“This is a sensitive issue,” the mayor says. “You can mold kids and you can also screw then up because kids go through identity crises at different ages.”
Cirulli says that he knew that he would take heat for the comments he made.
“They basically did it…and jammed it down everybody’s throats before you even know what’s in it,” he says.
The mayor says he wants public input into the curriculum, which is still being drafted. He says he also wants residents to pressure their state legislators to rescind the law.
“It’s not about my beliefs, it’s getting the issue out,” Cirulli says.
But the executive director of LGBTQ rights group, Garden State Equality, says that the law is being blown out of proportion.
“There's not going to be an LGBTQ class. It's going to be interwoven through all the relevant subject areas,” says Christian Fuscarino. “In other states where this curriculum is used, we've seen rates of bullying go down by nearly 50%.”
Fuscarino says that the curriculum is being written by educators and experts.
“Unfortunately, bigotry still exists but it's important we still have these conversations with each other so we can build bridges and have a better understanding of why it's not scary that someone is different than yourself,” he says.
In a reaction to the mayor's statement, Barnegat Police Chief Keith Germain said his department is "committed to core values which include fairness, empathy, and respect."
Cirulli called the chief's remarks "out of line."