New Jersey education board criticized over ‘equity’ policy

The New Jersey Board of Education last week approved new rules that will require schools to segregate sex education classes based on "gender identity" instead of sex.
Students, gay pride flag

(The Center Square) — New Jersey leaders are criticizing the state's plans to adopt a new "equity" policy to govern how public schools teach sexual education.

The New Jersey Board of Education last week approved new rules that will require schools to segregate sex education classes based on "gender identity" instead of sex, expand the number of protected classes the regulations shield, adopt gender-neutral language and eliminate references to both sexes, among other changes. The measure narrowly passed on a 6-5 vote.

But members of the Senate's GOP minority are pressuring the board to roll back the regulations, pledging to file legislation to block the new curriculum from going into effect.

"A board of unelected government bureaucrats should not have sole authority over our children’s curriculum," state Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, said in a statement. "Parents are rightfully concerned about their voices being dismissed while a controversial curriculum gets pushed into the classroom with little to no oversight."

The lawmakers also raised concerns about the new rules reducing school districts' time to implement the updated policies from 180 days to 60 days.

They accused education board members of “driving a wedge” between parents, teachers and local school administrators.

“We are hearing from parents that they feel like their voices and concerns are not being heard when they question what’s being taught to their children," state Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cape May, said in a statement. “Not only should we repeal the controversial decision made by the state board, but we must also go one step further and require legislative approval of any action that would update or revise school curriculum."

But Republicans aren't the only ones complaining about the new school sex education curriculums. Top New Jersey Democrats, including Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, issued a joint statement criticizing the education board for not discussing the changes before putting them up for a vote.

"We believe that families should have a voice in what is taught to their children, and as long as we have a say over the matter, they will continue to," they said.

"And as always, all children deserve subject matter that is age-appropriate, posted clearly and transparently for families to review, and free from any politics."

But the state's GOP chairman Bob Hugin called out the state's Democrats for "insincere and weak criticism" of the Board of Education’s vote, accusing them of supporting policies that "put government in the middle of the sacred relationship between parents and children."

"To force children of the opposite biological sex into the same classroom while learning about personal, sensitive health matters is unfathomable," Hugin said.

"The Democrats’ quest to eliminate any meaningful distinction between males and females – in language and in practice – endangers the welfare of our children and needs to be reversed immediately.”