NJ town fights over mayor’s stance against LGBTQ curriculum
BARNEGAT — A crowd of about 100 people at Tuesday's township committee meeting quickly dissolved into chaos over opposing views on a new state law on LGBTQ school curriculum requirements.
Mayor Alfonso Cirulli echoed comments he previously made at a township committee meeting Aug. 6, when he called such an educational requirement "an affront to almighty God."
The law takes effect in the 2020-2021 school year and requires New Jersey public middle and high schools to include instruction and materials that "accurately portray political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."
"There is no hate or bigotry intended here. Everyone has a right to live his or her life the way they want to. But 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 as to how to morally raise their children," Cirulli, a former assistant principal, said during the "Mayor's Report" portion of the Aug. 6 meeting.
According to the Asbury Park Press's coverage of Tuesday's meeting, 43-year-old Connie Jeremias voiced concern that the mayor's divisive comments made "Barnegat look 'bigoted' in national media."
Deputy Mayor John J. Novak continued his support of Cirulli at the past two meetings, saying it should be up to parents to teach things with spiritual or religious connotations.
Both Cirulli and Novak have voiced support for an "opt out" for families who object to the LGBTQ curriculum mandate.
Earlier this year, Hackensack school board member Frances Cogelja came under fire for an email in which she said she found the state's new LGBT curriculum law to be "incredibly disturbing and frankly shocking." She also was upset by the lack of an opt-out option.
Cogelja apologized for causing offense but resisted calls for her resignation by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Democrats representing Hackensack.
The intent of the law is to include instruction and readings that "accurately portray political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."
Examples from an available curriculum guide put together by the national education organization GLSEN include women who dressed as men while fighting in the Civil War, the anti-communist Lavender Scare of the 1950s, the debate over the adoption and repeal of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy and marriage equality.
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