As a lifelong resident of Vernon, I remember having comprehensive health education classes in the early 2000s. As a mom of two young children in Vernon schools, I fully support the “new health curriculum” which provides updates on topics like consent, LGBTQ identities, gender stereotypes, and development during puberty.
Early education matters. Studies show that comprehensive sex education is a proven protective factor against sexual violence. As a professional working in violence prevention on a college campus, I see the harm caused when students leave home lacking a basic understanding of consent and healthy relationships. It also matters that our curriculum is inclusive of LGBTQ families and youth: rates of unhealthy behaviors and suicides decline when young people see themselves reflected in the curriculum.
Studies also show that quality sex education reduces bullying and harassment, prevents abuse, and increases the likelihood of reporting if someone does try to harm a child.
New Jersey allows parents or guardians to opt-out of any part of the health or family life curriculum if there is a conflict with their individual beliefs. I encourage parents to read the 2020 New Jersey Standards for Comprehensive Health/Phys. Ed. (and the NJ Department of Education’s letter from April 14, 2022) to make an informed decision about what is right for your family.
In 1981 New Jersey became the first state in the nation to pass comprehensive sex education in public schools. Let’s continue to lead the way and support the well-being of our kids.