Nebraska’s Department of Education has proposed a set of statewide health education standards that would introduce discussions of the names of genitalia and diverse kinds of families, including “same-gender” and “cohabitating,” to students beginning in kindergarten.
The standards ramp up by grade, with third-graders (8- and 9-year-olds) being asked to “define sexual orientation” and discuss “the range of ways people express their gender and how gender-role stereotypes may influence behavior.”
By fifth grade, students would be able to “Explain that gender expression and gender identity exist along a spectrum.”
“I am calling on the Nebraska Department of Education to scrap their proposed sex education topics that are included in their draft health standards,” said Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, after the standards were announced earlier this month.
“The new standards from the department would not only teach young children age-inappropriate content starting in kindergarten, but also inject non-scientific, political ideas into curriculum standards. The sex education standards represent a significant shift in approach to health education, and many of the new themes are sensitive topics that should be addressed by parents at home and not by schools.”
The standards were developed by “political activists,” Ricketts said. “I am urging Nebraska parents to speak up now, and to share their reaction with the department, so it can be made a part of the formal record to the full board.”
The proposal would bring statewide standards to a curriculum area currently handled by each school district. It would require adoption by the Nebraska State Board of Education, which is scheduled to discuss the standards at its regularly scheduled April 2 meeting in Lincoln. The meeting will be streamed online. A final decision on the standards, which would act as state-promoted guidelines not enforceable by law, is expected next November.
Founders’ Values, a conservative group opposing the proposed Nebraska health education standards, said in one of its alerts to supporters: “Kindergarten students do not need to know the names of their genitalia. Teachers who are essentially strangers have no business discussing, describing, and naming a child’s genitalia. Wouldn’t this be considered grooming if a stranger in a park started talking to the 5-year-old girl about her vagina? Or talking to the 5-year-old boy about his penis? This is the duty, right, and responsibility of the parents or guardians, not teachers.”
Organizations such as the LGBTQ-affirming Out Nebraska have voiced support for the state standards. Left-wing groups have been working to bring statewide sex education to Nebraska for years. In 2014, for example, the California-based Grove Foundation, a supporter of Planned Parenthood that pushes its Working to Institutionalize Comprehensive Sex Education (WISE) initiative, provided a $75,000 grant to the state in order to promote comprehensive sex-ed training to school districts, sparking controversy.
As Nebraska law stands, the only requirements for school districts that teach sex education are that parents must be involved in curriculum decisions, the public must have access to materials and students must be able to opt out.
According to the state education department, public comments from Nebraska residents will be taken in person at the April 2 board meeting and online in writing. Written public comments must be received no later than noon on April 1 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gov. Ricketts is also encouraging state residents to voice their opinions to members of the state school board and the Department of Education by emailing comments to email@example.com.
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