County supervisors oppose NJ’s updated sex education standards

Newton. They say the newly revised standards “interfere with a parent’s rights to teach their own children about these sensitive matters in a manner that comports with their core family values and beliefs.”

28 Sep 2020 | 07:51

Sussex County’s board of supervisors unanimously opposed the State Board of Education’s revised sex education standards during their Sept. 23 meeting.

Their resolution emphasized the role of a child’s parents or guardians, even after a child begins receiving formal education outside of their home, in guiding a child’s education. The revised standards adopted by New Jersey’s Department of Education “interfere with a parent’s rights to teach their own children about these sensitive matters in a manner that comports with their core family values and beliefs,” the supervisors said.

On June 2, the State Board of Education passed the new Student Learning Standards for all curriculum areas, including Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, which includes sex education. The board said the state’s sex education standards were in need of improvement, and adopted standards modeled on the National Sexuality Education Standards. The newly adopted standards in New Jersey feature an updated and more comprehensive curriculum that includes LGBTQ identities and discusses sexual consent. It removed language that relied on the gender binary considered stigmatizing and shaming.

The Sussex County supervisors’ resolution said the standards promote “age-inappropriate sexual content which usurps a parent’s ability to determine whether a child is emotionally and intellectually prepared for instruction in sex education.”

Sussex County Freeholder Director Sylvia Petillo thanked New Jersey State Senators Steve Oroho (R-24th Dist.) and Mike Testa (R-1st Dist.) for introducing their own resolution.

“It is extremely important that parental rights are respected and included in all sectors of education in our public schools,” Petillo said.

Supervisor Joshua Hertzberg agreed and said he has learned of more parents in the community gravitating toward private schools, to regain their right to teach their own children these lessons

In other business:
Recreational cannabis: The supervisors unanimously tabled their resolution opposing an amendment in New Jersey’s Constitution to legalize recreational cannabis, removing language to encourage voters to vote “no” on this 2020 ballot question.
Vote-by-mail: Supervisor Anthony Fasano said Sussex County is prepared for the vote-by-mail election, even though supervisors took a stand objecting to exclusive vote-by-mail in New Jersey. He said the approximately 1,600 uncounted ballots recently discovered at the Sussex County Board of Elections has now been remedied with a count and certification of the ballots that has not changed the outcome of election results. The board of elections has released its improvement plan for ballot-counting procedures. All ballots will be mailed to voters by the county clerk’s office by Monday, Oct. 5. For more information call 973-579-1900 ext. 1507.
Solar energy program: Supervisor Herbert Yardley addressed a bill proposed by Senator Bob Smith (D17th Dist.) that would permit New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities to establish solar energy program, and clear-cut forests and farmland for solar panels.
Nursing home deaths: Supervisor Yardley also addressed the Senate Republicans’ recent petition urging movement on the bill to launch an investigation the more than 7,000 nursing home deaths in New Jersey from COVID-19. He asked county counsel for an update on the Open Public Records Act requests sent to the State Department of Health about the deaths at Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation I and II. The state has asked for several extensions for the information, which was requested by the county in April.
Schools lack COVID-19 guidance: Sussex County Deputy Supervisor Director Dawn Fantasia said a letter to the supervisors from the Sussex County Superintendents’ Roundtable Association, signed by all the school superintendents in the county, states that schools have been faced with a lack of clear guidance from New Jersey’s Department of Education and Department of Health. Information the school districts have received from the State about reopening with the COVID-19 guidelines, the letter stated, has been described as inadequate, inaccurate and not timely, Fantasia said.
Energy rate increase: Supervisor Fantasia said she spoke with Warren County Supervisor Deputy Director James R. Kern III in support of his Sept. 18 letter to Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso, asking the Board of Public Utilities to delay its vote on a proposed rate increase for First Energy’s Jersey Central Power & Light. Kern asked for a study of Northwest New Jersey prior to a potential increase, because of the rise and duration of power outages in the region.
Scholarship winner: The supervisors presented a $2,500 from the National Association of Counties scholarship to resident Savana Brogan. Brogan’s winning essay for the scholarship was chosen out of 600 contenders in the Eastern region of the United States, focusing on how she would practice sound economic stewardship throughout her lifetime.