With the beginning of school just around the corner, Republican State Senators hosted a virtual hearing Aug. 23 to discuss sex education, state curriculum mandates, and improving parental rights in education.
The event was chaired by State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-26) and included two North Jersey lawmakers who have raised the issues of the new health and sex education curriculum to be taught this school year: Kristin Corrado (R-40) and Holly Schepisi (R-39).
At issue are health and sex education standards that the New Jersey Department of Education adopted in June 2020. Republican lawmakers contend that the standards delve into a range of sex and sexuality-related topics before children reach appropriate ages for learning about them. Additionally, they say that state officials adopted the standards at a time when public focus was diverted to the coronavirus pandemic and thus the standards never received full scrutiny.
The lawmakers heard from school board members, experts, and concerned parents for over two hours, whose objections focused on parental rights they feel is being ignored when it comes to objection around the appropriate grades to discuss such topics and, as gender expression and identity, sexual activity and masturbation, especially for kindergarten through sixth grade.
“We do not co-parent with the government…when we raise questions we are called extremists,” said Eric Simpkin, a board of education candidate in Voorhees. “We can not wait five years to revisit these standards, it needs to be done now.”
Panelists and politicians offered that there is a disconnect with local school boards and parents on one side and state educational leaders, including the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the powerful teachers union, on the other.
“NJEA ideology is separate from teachers,” said panelist Kathy Stanzione, a former teacher and school board member. “The fear factor they have been placing with parents is the same one they do with teachers.”
Corrado and Pennacchio have previously framed the issue as reducing and eliminating any role of parents in what is being taught in schools.
Hearing from Parents
“Parents are angry. They feel ignored, helpless, and frustrated,” said Corrado (R-40) earlier this year. “With parenting comes responsibilities, and Trenton bureaucrats are usurping that authority and relegating Moms and Dads to spectators in the raising of their children. The role of parents is sacrosanct, and they should have a say in every aspect of the education of their children.”
Pennacchio added “The (Murphy) Administration wants to remove parents from the equation…There is no mechanism in the law that allows parents of 4- and 5-year-olds to opt out of sexual identity and orientation lessons. At best, there is a lot of ambiguity and confusion about these new rules and what they mean for our children, and that’s by design.”
One school board member said the state is holding the threat of reducing funding if they did not adopt and implement the curriculum.
“They want to indoctrinate our children with this nonsense,” stated Garwood Board of Education member Sal Piarulli. “Its extortion when they threaten to cut out funding if we aren’t teaching (sex ed). We need to get back to teaching kids math, science.”
Schepisi raised the issue of the resource material being available to kids as inappropriate and needed to be looked at. State Sen. Michael Testa (R-1) offered that if he was to show the material to children he lived next to it would be a violation of Megan’s Law.
“There has been a controversy over the false narrative that we want to ban books,” said Schepisi. “Parents are more focused on sexually explicit material that are not appropriate for an 11-12 year old.”
Schepisi touched off much of the controversy over the 2020 revised standards when her April 5 Facebook post expressing concerns over the standards went viral. “I truly think New Jersey has lost its damn mind,” she wrote, after clicking on links included in sample lesson plans. The sample curriculum Schepisi viewed, , which was not being used by any New Jersey school district, was drafted by Washington, D.C.-based Advocates for Youth and called the curriculum “totally age-inappropriate and highly sexualized,”
Schepisi noted at the time that the outreach lawmakers have received from superintendents, teachers, board of education members and parents, “it’s clear they feel completely blindsided (by the new requirements). This occurred with no transparency and well before educators, parents and local school boards had a say.”
Schepisi warned that “there are a whole host of bills that are coming down the pipe that …attempt to take the parent out of the equation.”
Expert testimony was offered as well that argued that the concepts being taught could have long lasting psychological damage and that teachers at the younge grade levels are not trained to teach about anal, oral and vagainal sex and the physical and mental effects it will have in their future.
While most panelist stressed that their view on the issue were more mainstream then what Democrats and NJEA would have your to believe and more concerned about the role of parents in a child’s life and not wanting to oversxulaize children, at least one parent who testified took a harder edge when she compared the government’s actions to the Gestapo.
“When it comes to the LGBTQ+…whether that behavior is accepted in my household is no one’s business,” said Emerson resident Charlotte Colon, who has she pulled her children out of public schools because of the curriculum. “Educate, not indoctrinate…I am not an extremist but I take being called that as a badge of honor.”
I do hope that all parents who object to the proposed science-based educational curriculum for sex education pull their kids out of public schools asap, so that the rest of the parents can know that their kids will receive age-appropriate, scientifically sound information that will help them to make good decisions going forward, as well as enabling them to grow up comfortable in their own bodies and with their own identities.
We honestly don’t need a bunch of prudish religious fanatics dictating to our children that they cannot receive essential info from their teachers. Time to grow up, parents, and realize that your kids are much more capable than you are of dealing with frank, yet entirely age-appropriate discussions. Stop the fear, and stop the politicians trying to capitalize on such unfounded fear.
Concerned parents, if you don’t like what your children are taught, add your voice to the equation by sitting your kids down at home and guiding them through what they learn at school. Else, pull those kids out of public schools and either home school them or send them to religious schools. Nothing that’s being proposed prevents you from becoming directly involved in your child’s education.
Funny how none of these experts are named and their credentials listed. Sounds like a bunch of Puritans got together to complain they don’t get to keep their kids ignorant.
Well in my town, eighth grade girls are giving the eighth grade boys blow jobs. It would be nice if they had some sex education about this either from the parents or from the school.
Please take your children out of the public school if you don’t like sex education. Those of us parents that want our children to be informed and educated as they have been throughout the decades in the public school system, understand the imperative to solid scientific information so that as children grow they make appropriate and informed decisions. Additionally they learn to accept that we are all different human beings and that we must accept that each of us is a unique person, no better or worse than someone else. Hate and bigotry should not be taught by virtue of exclusion from the sex education curriculum.
Do those parents that pull their kids out of public schools also get to pull the dollars elsewhere? Oh no, and that’s the rub.
They’re worse than prudish. They’re hypocritical. And their de facto leader is a grifter who, when he declared for the presidency, bragged about getting away with a thrill-killing and “My daughter is hot! But I can’t marry her.” They talk family values, but look the other way when one of their own talks this—and opens the door to a cross examination about things they did without marriage.
Has Scepisi viewed the actual NJ curriculum, or just the one not being used in NJ?
Tough luck, Charlie. You want to play pin the tail on the puritan, you have to pay.
My personal experience, being an old lady, is that you need to teach kids as soon as possible, or they will be finding out on their own, and you’ll have no control as to who will be (mis)informing them. As a 5y/o, I was “de-flowered” by a curious older cousin (in 1949!). In grammar school, my fellow 2nd graders were already aware that a classmate was gay, calling him a fairy. I had a 13y/o friend who died from an abortion her parents were performing on her. Her father had repeatedly raped her. When did we finally get “sex education”? Sophomore year in H.S., way too late. By our Jr. year, girls were dropping out because they were pregnant.
I wish I had been taught as I was growing up, how to take care of myself and be kind to others who were different. My own sex education came to me painfully, costing me years of emotional insecurity. My beloved Christian mother had books, hidden in a drawer, entitled “How Shall I Tell My Daughter”. I’d sneak to read them, but she never gathered up the courage to talk to me until I was 16.
I swore I’d never do that to a child of mine…and I didn’t. But even in those days, schools were not up to the task in a timely way. Sex must be taught in a factual, practical, self-protective manner, and addressed in ongoing conversations. It must start at an early age. Most parents are intimidated by sexuality, or some parents are way too brash and crude about it. Best to have teachers teach about in a learned, compassionate, unemotional and scientific way.
Well then; If’n they are going to teach Sex to adolescent kid’s, then they should also give these kid’s free access to prevention aides , Pills-Condom’s-Doctor’s & of course Abortions.!! SEE; It all goes with that territory!! AND; When you Play, you must expect to Pay!!//
@Rib, they are not teaching “sex” to kids. They are teaching about sex. Big difference.
Spot on, @anonymous!
Many of the objections originate from a non-NJ far right org, who provide money to local groups to advance their christian nationalist agenda. https://portlandnice.blogspot.com/2022/08/beware-of-mom-army-ready-to-slay-dragon.html?m=1
Right now, those 11 and 12 year olds are going on Daddy’s computer and watching pornography. Preventing teachers from teaching this material isn’t going to keep kids ignorant. It’s just going to continue the practice of kids getting their sex education from sources that won’t teach realism, consent, or hygiene. If the objection is that elementary teachers aren’t trained to teach this material appropriately, the solution is to train elementary teachers, not bury our heads in the sand and pretend that knowing that Mommy-Daddy-2-kids isn’t the only family structure out there and that adults have sex in many and varied combinations is going to traumatize kids more than being ignorant in a hyper-sexualized world.
Awesome comments. Parents do have their heads in the sand. And loves anonymous’ answer.