With recent misinformation pushed by political operatives, Senate Education Committee Chairman Vin Gopal will act on legislation to ensure that parents are informed and empowered on the health and sex education curriculum
Trenton – Senator Vin Gopal, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, will be introducing legislation this week to ensure that parents and guardians are fully informed of the school curriculum on health and sex education, provided the opportunity to review any educational material on the subject, allowed to meet with local school officials to get any questions answered, and given the option to opt-out if they would rather teach health and sex education to their children instead of having the school district do it.
“Because we have seen professional political operatives and politicians purposely spread misinformation and false claims that cause concern for well-meaning parents, it is important to put the ‘Transparency in Health & Sex Education Curriculum Act’ into law,” said Senator Gopal. “Parents should be empowered with all the information they need to make decisions for their children.
“This bill will do three things that will bring clarity for all parents and guardians regarding their child’s Health and Sex Education Curriculum,” said Senator Gopal.
The bill would:
Mandate that all school curriculums be uploaded to their Board of Education website 14 days prior to start of the school year. By doing this, parents and guardians will know exactly what is in their local school district’s curriculum. This will fight the misinformation from fake curriculums being distributed online that were created by third parties and not local governments. Transparency in local curriculums is already strongly recommended by the New Jersey School Boards Association.
Prior to a school district implementing a Health and Sex Education Curriculum, the following needs to happen:
The district needs to provide either a public opportunity for parents or guardians with children in that specific school district to ask questions and review the curriculum; or,
The district needs to provide individual opportunities for parents or guardians from the specific district to meet with school officials to ask questions/review the contents of the curriculum. This opportunity should be available conveniently on the Board of Education’s official website. The link should include clear instructions on how a parent or guardian can opt-out their child from sex education curriculum if they choose, and parents should be advised of how to opt-out. (In New Jersey, parents have had the right to opt out of the family life curriculum for their children since 1980, when N.J.S.A. 18A:35-4.7, the Parents Right to Conscience Act, took effect.)
The bill reinforces the difference between standards and curriculums. Standards are a blueprint that describe expectations of what students should know and be able to do. They guide the development of curriculum by each individual district. Curriculum is developed by teachers and school district leadership. It is proposed to the local board of education, which must, by law, vote to adopt it. Individual districts have control over their curriculum and specific lesson plans and that is reaffirmed in this bill.
“This bill will bring full transparency to our health and sex education curriculums in our 600-plus school districts by stopping the politically-coordinated misinformation campaign and further empowering parents by ensuring that their children are offered the opportunity for a comprehensive education, which is what an overwhelming majority of parents want and are entitled to as part of a quality education,” said Senator Gopal.
Senator Gopal will post the bill for the first Senate Education Committee after the budget break on May 9th.