Gov. Murphy defends N.J. LGBTQ curriculum amid backlash

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy gestures while standing behind a mic

File photo: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his victory speech in front of supporters at Convention Hall on Nov. 3, 2021, in Asbury Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy defended the state’s new LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum on a monthly show with NPR affiliates in the tri-state area.

Speaking on “Ask Governor Murphy,” Murphy said he lauds the new curriculum set to take full effect in the fall, though he acknowledged that he understood concerns from some parents about sample lesson plans that were recently introduced in some school districts.

“I fully accept that there were some curricula flying around out there and they were with links to organizations that had some pretty graphic stuff that I’m not a buyer of,” Murphy said.”But if it’s age-appropriate, and it’s consistent with these guidelines.”

It has become a flashpoint for some conservatives who say some of the proposed lessons on sexual health are not age-appropriate. Murphy said he thinks some Republicans are using the issue to attack people who identify as LGBTQIA.

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“I think shame on the folks who are trying to separate us,” Murphy said.

Murphy in 2019 signed a law that would require the state public schools to implement an LGBTQ curriculum for students in grades five through 12, becoming the second U.S. state to do so after California.

Last week, the New Jersey Department of Education released documents clarifying its role in implementing the curriculum. 

The document stated that by the end of second-grade students are expected to “discuss the range of ways people express their gender and how gender-role stereotypes may limit behavior.”

By the end of fifth grade, students would be expected to “explain common human sexual development and the role of hormones (e.g., romantic and sexual feelings, masturbation, mood swings, timing of pubertal onset),” the document said.

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Before students begin high school, they would be expected to know how to define vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

“Ensuring that students understand that they have agency over their own bodies is fundamental to keeping them safe and protecting themselves from pressure, dating violence, and assault. It is important to provide students language for, and understanding of, specific acts, empowering them to stay safe, evaluate risks, make informed decisions, and communicate health issues or injuries if necessary,” the document read.

According to the New Jersey Monitor, state Sen. Vin Gopal (D-11) said he will introduce legislation that aims to “increase transparency” and quell “misinformation and false claims.”

State lawmakers return to the statehouse from recess on May 9.

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