Sussex County Freeholders Oppose State Board of Education Standards Imposed on Sex Education in Public Schools

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(Newton, NJ) The members of Sussex County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously opposed via a resolution the State Board of Education’s revised sex education standards during their meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

The Freeholder resolution emphasized the role of a child’s parents or guardians, even after a child begins receiving formal education outside of their home, in providing valuable support and guidance in a child’s education.

The resolution stated the revised standards, adopted by New Jersey’s Department of Education on June 3, 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 resolution cited 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.”

What Changed: New Jersey’s Department of Education (Passed 8 - 4)

New Jersey has adopted new sex education standards that will expand what students are taught about relationships, pregnancy and consent, but also includes updates on the controversial topics of abortion and gender identity.

The state Board of Education approved the standards for health and physical education in an 8-4 vote last week. Advocates hailed the state's move, saying the changes would promote student safety, health and inclusiveness.

“Providing New Jersey’s students with thorough and inclusive health and physical education is the first step to creating a safer Garden State," Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said in a statement. "Comprehensive sexual health education is a proven protective factor against sexual violence and essential to young people’s health and safety."

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 objecting to the new standards. Petillo said the decision-making about when to teach children, some who may not have the maturity levels yet to understand sensitive sexual topics, should be left to their parents or guardians, with the latest standards de-emphasizing the role of parents.

She said the text of the resolution is similar to one put before the state Senate by Sen. Steve Oroho, whose district includes all of Sussex County.

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

Freeholder Joshua Hertzberg agreed that it is a parent’s right and responsibility to teach these sensitive topics to their own children and that he has learned of more parents in the community gravitating toward private schools, to regain their right to teach their own children these lessons.


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