Gov. Murphy pumps brakes on controversial gender identity lessons in NJ schools
After bipartisan pressure, Gov. Phil Murphy's administration will be taking a second look at guidelines including sexual orientation and gender identity in New Jersey public education plans.
In a statement Wednesday morning, Murphy said it was important to "promote inclusivity and respect for every child, including LGBTQ youth." But he acknowledged some potential sample plans may not be age-appropriate.
“To this end, I have directed my Department of Education to review the standards and provide further clarification on what age-appropriate guidelines look like for our students. My Administration is committed to ensuring that all of our students are equipped to lead healthy, productive lives now and in the future.”
State leaders on both sides of the aisle have recognized outcry from parents, though in different ways.
State Sen. Edward Durr, R-Gloucester. has introduced a bill to ban classroom lessons on sexual orientation or gender identity for kindergarten through sixth grade.
“This is clearly a subject that is very sensitive, and by sensitive nature in itself, should be left to the home, to the parents," Durr said.
Other Republicans in the state Legislature have made similar arguments.
“It’s been clear for many years that left-wing groups view our children’s classrooms as a battleground they need to conquer to control the thinking of the next generation,” said state Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Warren.
However, Murphy pushed back on these criticisms.
“Unfortunately, our learning standards have been intentionally misrepresented by some politicians seeking to divide and score political points," Murphy said.
State Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, also said Tuesday that the conversation surrounding public education was full of misinformation. He added no one wants to teach sex to kindergarteners and first graders.
“That’s insane, no rational person would want that. This is about making sure every child knows how to treat other children," Gopal said.
But Gopal, who serves as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, also called on the Murphy administration to pump the brakes and "provide clarity" before taking further action.
Gopal applauded Murphy's decision to review the guidelines.
"Happy to see they are moving on this and I look forward to seeing this happen quickly and comprehensively," Gopal said on Facebook.