Proposed lesson plans on gender ideology raise some concerns among NJ parents
There is controversy in at least one New Jersey school district over a potential new lesson plan on sexual education and gender identity. The controversy comes as districts are revising what they teach in September to meet a deadline from the Murphy administration to follow updated state health and physical education standards.
“Parents do not want to co-parent with the government,” says Republican state Sen. Mike Testa. “The parents are activated, so to speak. And I've encouraged every parent who's contacted me to peacefully attend their local school board meetings and ask the appropriate questions.”
The issue involves a proposed lesson plan distributed to parents in Westfield that includes teaching first graders to define sexual abuse and second graders to identify male and female genitalia.
“I’m hopeful that it’s an outlier. But unfortunately, I don’t believe that it is an outlier,” Testa says.
Districts are rewriting curricula because their deadline to comply with the new state standards is in September. The proposed lesson plans in Westfield were devised by Advocates for Youth, a group that says it "champions programs that recognize young people's rights to honest sexual health information."
"Attempts to create controversy in Westfield are just the most recent example of a concerted, nationwide effort by a few far-right organizations to confuse and frighten parents about the content of sex education, and these attacks disregard the medical research that backs a strong sex ed curriculum,” Advocates for Youth president Debra Hauser said in a statement.
But Testa questions if these types of lessons are necessary for younger students.
“If your neighbor were to show these materials to your child, would that be OK?” he asks.
The state standards say that by the end of second grade, children should know that "All living things may have the capacity to reproduce" and by fifth grade that “pregnancy can be achieved through a variety of methods."
Gov. Phil Murphy said on Monday that parents "absolutely" deserve a say in the curriculum.
Advocates for Youth say its lesson plans are free, available online, and "designed to be adapted by school districts in keeping with the needs of the community."