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Assemblywoman Linda S. Carter. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Assembly committee passes sex ed transparency bill after hours of dissent

Like in prior Senate committee, activists took major issue with state learning standards

By Joey Fox, May 19 2022 4:34 pm

Just as happened in the equivalent Senate committee last week, the Assembly Education Committee today cleared a bill to increase transparency in sex education curricula following a lengthy and often off-topic debate over statewide learning standards. The bill passed 4-3, with the committee’s three Republicans opposed.

The Transparency in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Curriculum Act, which was first proposed by State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) in April, requires school districts to post sex education syllabi publicly and allow for comment from parents. 

Gopal’s proposal was made in response to outcry from state Republicans over what they argue are age-inappropriate educational standards on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation; much of their ire was based on a sample lesson plan in Westfield that state officials have said isn’t representative of the overall standards. But although more transparency was one of the key demands from Republicans, conservative activists and parents insisted today’s bill doesn’t go far enough.

“The children need to be protected against this type of curriculum,” one testifier said. “My children have been affected by the curriculum… I don’t want the sex ed standards at all. I want the whole thing rejected.”

In a statement released after the bill passed, its sponsor, Assemblywoman Linda Carter (D-Plainfield), said that it would be helpful both for addressing parents’ legitimate concerns and stemming the flow of wild claims about the state standards.

“Unfortunately, misinformation and disinformation have surrounded the new student learning standards in comprehensive health and physical education causing understandable concern amongst parents and guardians,” Carter said. “With this legislation, we ensure greater transparency, meaning parents and guardians will be well-informed about the health, family life, and sex education curriculum in their children’s schools.”

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