Barnegat, New Jersey, Mayor Alfonso Cirulli is leading the charge in a campaign to oppose a new state law requiring all public middle and high schools to teach students about LGBTQ history. In a town meeting on Aug. 6, Cirulli urged residents to put pressure on New Jersey lawmakers to reverse the law.
The legislation, signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in January, requires public schools to “include instruction, and adopt instructional materials, that accurately portray political, economic and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.” The law has no provision that allows for parents to opt out.
“[It’s] an affront to almighty God,” Cirulli said. “No group has a right to force others to comply with their beliefs, deprive them of their First Amendment rights and strip the rights of parents of how to morally raise their children.”
Cirulli, a former teacher and assistant principal, worries that the inclusion of LGBTQ lessons may lead some children to have “an identity crisis.”
“This tramples First Amendment rights, especially religious freedom,” he said. “Because you’re crossing into a realm that I believe as an educator, education should not be crossing into. … Now is the time for the righteous to stand up for their rights.”
“In the world we live in, the truth of God’s Word many times isn’t received well,” posted Franklin Graham on Facebook. “But that shouldn’t stop us from standing with God’s teachings from the Bible. Pray for Mayor Cirulli—and pray that this state mandate will be reversed.”
Brian Latwis, superintendent of the Barnegat Township School District, wrote in a statement on the district’s website that the schools will comply with state guidelines, which are set to take effect at the beginning of 2020-2021 school year.
New Jersey is the second of three states to enact legislation that requires schools to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive curricula. California passed a similar law in 2011, while Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker followed suit on Friday.
Updated at 9 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2019