KEARNEY — Teaching too much about sex and gender identity could hurt young Nebraskans.
That was the message today from the Protect Nebraska Children Coalition, which has thrown up a red flag about elements of comprehensive sex education in the Nebraska Department of Education’s proposed overhaul of health education standards.
“It’s clear this approach to sexuality is far from what Nebraskans would want for their children,” said Jenna Derr, a family medicine physician from Kearney during a press conference at Kearney’s Ramada Inn.
Four people attended the press briefing, which was one day before the Nebraska Board of Education meets in Kearney. The meeting will be 9 a.m. Friday at Holiday Inn, 110 Second Ave.
The sex education portion of the proposal attracted an overflow crowd Monday night at the Kearney Public Library.
Gov. Pete Ricketts warned at that gathering the sex education standards are dangerous, but they can be halted if people speak out against them.
“The only way to stop it, to fight it, is if regular ... Nebraskans say, ‘Enough is enough. We are not going to let this happen in our country,’” Ricketts said.
At today’s press conference, middle school educator Katie McClemons from Kearney said that comprehensive sex education, like the proposed standards, already is causing problems, some of them because topics are introduced before they are age appropriate.
In addition to sex ed, the proposal introduces students to gender identity and family structure topics. Those parts of the curriculum may be intended to encourage inclusion, but McClemons said, “debasing one family’s values in order to validate another’s” is wrong.
Sue Greenwald, a retired pediatrician from Kearney, said comprehensive sexuality education is a concern, but so are elements of critical race theory she sees embedded in the standards. Critical race theory is based on the belief that racism is a tool to maintain social, economic and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites.
“The cancel culture is winning,” Greenwald said.
Marilyn Asher of Omaha, co-executive director of Nebraskans for Founders Values, told the press briefing that the Protect Nebraska Children Coalition is encouraging people to oppose the proposed standards. She said there are 10,000 members in the Protect Nebraska Children Coalition, and they’ve signed a petition against the proposed standards.
More information about the group is online at ProtectNebraskaChildren.Org.
On Monday, Ricketts encouraged people to tell their elected officials, community members, friends and family about the proposed health standards.
One part of the proposal Ricketts talked about, Human Growth and Development in kindergarten, proposes to have students discussing “different kinds of family structures (e.g. single parent, blended, intergenerational, cohabitating, adoptive, foster, same-gender, interracial).”
The governor said there is no mention of two heterosexual parents.
He also raised issues with students in first grade learning about gender identity and seventh graders being taught about anal and oral sex.
“Why are we teaching this in schools?” he said. “It’s the sexualization of our kids.”
The governor encouraged the audience members to contact the State Board of Education members and to talk to local school board members, superintendents, teachers, family and friends about the proposed standards and to get them to act.
Whether the proposed standards are employed in local school districts will be decided by local school boards.