Middletown School Board Reviews New Mandates for Sex Education Program
MIDDLETOWN, NJ – At the Middletown School Board meeting on Monday night, a woman who not only works in schools but also has a child enrolled, spoke to the board and said she had concerns about the new sex education program taught in New Jersey schools.
“I find it disturbing in so many ways that our kids – and our teachers – are supposed to be talking about some of these things,” said Ann Marie Lusquinos, speech therapist at the school and also the parent of a sixth grader in Middletown. “It’s just disturbing. When I was in school, physical and health education was all about self-care, exercise and driver education… and that was the climax.”
What this mom is referring to is this new set of learning standards for health and physical education the state Department of Education released last year. The state says these subjects must now be taught in New Jersey public schools.
The new education mandates are broad and include a range of topics such as: Breast Self Exam Education Grades 7-12, Cancer Awareness, Bullying, Education dating violence for grades 7 to 12, domestic violence, organ donation, abstinence education, suicide awareness, history and historical achievements of people with disabilities and lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender, African American achievements, Safe Haven laws and teaching students to view electronic sexual images (sexting, pornography, etc.)
But the following elements – which are taken directly from new state directives – seem to have aroused the most reluctance from parents in New Jersey:
- “Discuss the range of ways people express their gender and how gender role stereotypes can limit behavior” by the end of year two.
- By the end of fifth grade, teachers should “explain common human sexual development and the role of hormones (eg, romantic and sexual feelings, masturbation, mood swings, the time of onset of puberty) “.
- By the end of eighth grade, students should be able to “define vaginal, oral and anal sex.”
- “Describe pregnancy tests, signs of pregnancy and pregnancy options, including parenting, abortion and adoption” by the end of eighth grade.
- By the end of last year, students should have had discussions with their teachers about safe sex, abstinence, Safe Haven laws, adoption, and abortion.
(The parent who would like to fully understand the new requirements should really take the time to read the entire 66-page document from the Ministry of Education. These program changes were prompted by the administration of Governor Phil Murphy; under Murphy, climate change will also begin to be taught in NJ K-12 schools.)
In Toms River, parents are also upset, but the state Department of Education has said the district cannot shirk the program requirements, which are imposed by state law.
“The inclusion of such material is not optional,” a DOE spokesperson told the Toms River Patch reporter.
The state required the new curriculum to begin teaching in New Jersey schools by September 2022.
“I know this is from the state, but I think as members of the community we need to be more aware of what is being taught in our classrooms,” the mom continued. “And is the general parent population aware of this? I know half of the people I know have no idea it’s even on the radar about what could be taught to our children.”
“It’s mandatory,” Middletown Schools Superintendent Mary Ellen Walker said at Monday night’s meeting. “Our staff have been trained to deliver lessons appropriately for the age level.”
“It’s mandatory, but changes can be made,” retorted Frank Capone, a board member, who often disagrees with Superintendent Walker. He said he understood that parents could remove their child from a health / physical program. ed. program they disagreed with or did not deem appropriate, but Middletown deputy superintendent Patrick Rinella said at the meeting he could not immediately confirm this.
Local Middletown MP Gerry Scharfenberger (R-NJ 13) sharply criticized the new curriculum, saying last month: “Am I against teaching anal sex to elementary school students? Sure. It’s madness for me; let the children be children. These are matters best left to parents. The place for discussions like this is between a parent and a child.
In order to comply with the new requirements, the school board must adopt a curriculum policy, which is essentially Middletown’s version of state guidelines. You can read the policy here: https: //www.middletownk12.org / …
Council must vote to adopt politics, but Monday night they decided to drop it off instead.
Capone was not immediately free to speak to Patch on Thursday afternoon and Jackie Tobacco, head of the policy committee, did not immediately recall our call.
However, board member Barry Heffernan said the following on Thursday:
“As a parent of three children, I was also alarmed by this new program when I heard about it a few months ago,” he said. “But I sat down and met our administration and as a board member I think our teachers are handling this in the best possible way. I really feel our teachers have the best. intentions with these conversations and understand them well. “
“However, we don’t sit in every classroom,” he added.
As part of this same policy, the Middletown BOE will also allow prayer in public schools, in accordance with federal and state law. See page 1 of the policy: https: //www.middletownk12.org / …
The Middletown Board of Directors. will then meet at 6 p.m. on November 22, again at the library. The public part starts at 8 p.m.
Watch the November 15 Middletown BOE meeting here; the discussion on sex education starts at 2:25:
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