Five New Jersey State Senate Republicans develop new plans to repeal specific sex education mandates
Amid the ongoing debate and conversation on new sex education standards and requirements set to head into school curriculums this fall, five New Jersey State GOP Senators have developed new plans with hopes of providing different outcomes and courses of action.
State Senator Holly Schepisi (R-39) and State Senate Republican Leader Steve Oroho (R-24) are teaming up to introduce legislation that, if passed, would repeal the sex education mandates set to be implemented by the New Jersey State Board of Education and allow parents and local communities to have more of a voice in deciding what their children learn in the classrooms.
Their legislation comes on the heels of Senate Republicans pitching their “Three Rs” plan which would repeal, replace, and restore curriculum requirements.
If the bill should pass, the State Board would not be allowed to adopt any future Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education or mandate any similar curriculum requirements in health and physical education classes, according to a statement from Senators Schepisi and Oroho.
Their legislation also "directs local boards of education to adopt curriculum standards for the instruction of students in the subjects of health and physical education within 180 days of bill’s enactment" and "ensures that important topics continue to be taught, including suicide prevention; organ donation; sexual abuse and assault; dating violence; gang violence; cardiopulmonary resuscitation; sexting; consent for physical contact and sexual activity; mental health; the “New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act”; breast self-examination; and substance abuse."
“The current controversy over the extreme mandates imposed by unelected Trenton bureaucrats demonstrates exactly why we need to empower parents and local communities to control how sex education is taught in their children’s schools,” Senator Schepisi said in a written statement. “We believe sex education should be taught to students in an age-appropriate manner that is determined by local school boards in close consultation with parents. Different communities will likely find they have different perspectives on how best to teach sex education, and that’s okay. Under our legislation, they will have the authority to adopt learning standards that best fit the needs and concerns of their students and families without intrusive mandates from Trenton.”
“Parents have told us they are deeply concerned that state mandates to teach lessons about gender identity and various sexual acts are extreme and inappropriate for young children,” Senator Oroho said in a written statement. “They feel like important decisions on what must be taught to their children were decided in a back room before they even found out those discussions were taking place. That should never be the case. We’re going to fight for parents to take control of sex education away from inaccessible Trenton insiders and “Give It Back” to our communities. Republicans believe parents should always have a say.”
Meanwhile, State Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40) and State Senator Anthony Bucco (R-25) teamed up separately from the Schepisi-Oroho bill to introduce similar legislation called the “Parents Bill of Rights Act” which they explain would "provide parents substantially more information about what their children will be taught in school and to expand their ability to opt-out of concerning lessons to the entire curriculum."
Their legislation is also part of the State Senate GOP's “Three Rs” plan specifically would provide more parental rights in what is included in curriculums and in having more of a voice in deciding standards for their children’s education which Senators Corrado and Bucco explain that their legislation would lead to parents "having a summary of the curriculum to be taught to their child in the current school year, be able to review the curriculum to be taught to their child in the current school year, be able to review a list of the media services, textbooks, and books that are used in the classroom and that are available to a student through the school district, and opt their child out of any curriculum that the parent or guardian believes is in conflict with their conscience or sincerely held moral or religious beliefs."
If their bill is passed, Senators Corrado and Bucco explain that their legislation would also prohibit "a school or school district from interfering with a parent or guardian’s fundamental right to engage in and direct their child’s education or denying a request by a parent or guardian for information made pursuant to the provisions of the bill."
Senators Corrado and Bucco point to already existing laws that would allow opt-outs but only in certain circumstances: "N.J.S.A.18A:35-4.7 allows a parent or guardian to exclude a student from “health, family life education or sex education” by signing a statement that the instruction is in conflict with their conscience or sincerely held moral or religious beliefs," and, "N.J.S.A.18A:35-4.25 permits a student to opt-out of science activities related to animal dissection. Specifically, any student “may refuse to dissect, vivisect, incubate, capture or otherwise harm or destroy animals or any parts thereof as part of a course of instruction.”
Their legislation, in part, looks to expand on that and allow parents to opt their sons and daughters out of sexual education classes that touch on a variety of topics they don't wish to have their children learning.
“The recent controversy over new sex education mandates from Trenton has really opened the eyes of parents to the fact that portions of their children’s curriculum are inappropriate and extreme,” State Senator Corrado said in a written statement. “Parents are calling us nonstop to say they want to review what their kids are being taught and they want the right to exclude their children from lessons that conflict with their values. They’re absolutely shocked to learn how little power they have when it comes to overseeing their children’s education. Our new bill resets the balance of power in favor of parents where it belongs.”
“Parents can exclude their child from portions of sex education in health class or from dissecting a frog in biology, but they can’t opt-out from concerning lessons taught in other parts of the curriculum,” State Senator Bucco said in a written statement. “That’s a growing problem because new Trenton mandates are forcing controversial topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation to be discussed in a variety of subjects and at every grade level. It looks like an intentional effort by Democrats to make it harder for parents to know where controversial lessons are being taught and impossible for them to opt-out. Our ‘Parental Bill of Rights Act’ will give back the power to parents that Governor Murphy has taken away.”
There is a fifth New Jersey GOP State Senator who issued a statement on Monday as well and he is calling for change as it relates to the products being placed in boys' bathrooms at school.
State Senator Michael Doherty (R-23) wants to see amendments to legislation approved by the Senate Education Committee that permits feminine hygiene products such as tampons and sanitary napkins to be placed in boys' bathrooms.
“It’s absolutely nuts that nobody could tell us in committee today if the proposed bill applies only to girls’ bathrooms,” State Senator Doherty said in a written statement. “It would be completely and utterly ridiculous to force New Jersey schools to make tampons and sanitary napkins available in boys’ bathrooms. It would be an immense waste of money and is almost certain to lead to vandalism that could be quite costly to repair. The sponsors should accept reasonable amendments to make clear that the legislation applies to girls’ rooms only.”