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Warren County calls for ban on new sex education standards

BELVIDERE, N.J. – In response to New Jersey's revised sex education standards, the Warren County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday night unanimously passed a resolution asking the state to ban the curricula and to develop a parent's bill of rights to notify parents about what's being taught in their schools.

Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy directed the state Department of Education to review sex education standards adopted in 2020 and expected to take effect this fall.

Outlining when public school students should receive education about sexual orientation, gender identity and anatomy, the guidelines have ignited opposition.

At Wednesday's meeting, Commissioner Jason Sarnoski recited the entire resolution put forth by the board, which says, in part, “…the teaching of a highly sensitive curricula to our young children, particularly grades K-2, is both disturbing and concerning to the parents and citizens here in Warren County and throughout the State of New Jersey.”

The resolution also says the state guidelines were passed during the height of the pandemic, when people were at home and without the opportunity to make public comment or offer input “into this disturbing and highly sensitive curricula that will be taught to our young children.”

Further, it calls on Murphy, the state legislature, and the Department of Education to return such curricula to the control of local school boards.

“The county also desires to work with our parents, community leaders and professionals to develop the framework for a parent's bill of rights to use as a model for our county schools, as well as our local school districts, that will, among other things, protect our children, notify our parents of the curricula being taught to their children, in our schools and allow them to make their own decisions regarding their child’s education and exposure to sensitive information,” the resolution states.

It also says the public should have an opportunity to be heard on the issue, “which so significantly impacts the family unit,” demands that Murphy ban the curricula in question for young children, and directs the county administrator to schedule a public forum to allow county residents to express their concerns about what should be taught in public schools.

The resolution additionally authorizes the county commissioner director, county administrator and county counsel to work with parents and community leaders to develop a framework for the parent's bill of rights.

Before the vote, the board heard from several residents who voiced their support for the resolution. Many of them said the guidelines contain topics that should not be discussed in school.

Some of the more controversial aspects of the learning standards suggest teaching students, by the end of fifth grade, about masturbation as part of “common human sexual development,” as well as the “differentiation between sexual orientation and gender identity.” By the end of eighth grade, the guidelines recommend defining vaginal, anal and oral sex as part of curriculum about “factors that contribute to making healthy decisions about sex.”

Sarnoski said he was disturbed by what children are taught at a young age. He said the resolution was not prejudicial.

During the height of the pandemic, when many were sheltered in their homes, parents learned more about the education received by their children taking classes remotely, Sarnoski said.

“I am certainly happy that our community is coming together to express our concerns,” he said.

Commissioner Lori Ciesla said the second grade is too early to receive sex education, while Commissioner James R. Kern III noted that the resolution, while symbolic, “will shed light on what's taking place.”



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