On Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill aimed at schooling 5-year-olds in New Jersey.
The subject: diversity and inclusion.
According to the new law, children in every grade — along with kindergarteners — across the state’s public education system will be given lessons about life.
The instruction — opposed by several Republicans — will promote “diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance, and belonging in connection with gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, disabilities, and religious tolerance.”
As reported by NJ.com, it also directs schools to “examine the impact that unconscious bias and economic disparities have at both an individual level and on society as a whole.”
Sponsors of the bill — including Democrats Carol Murphy and Anthony Verrelli — championed respect’s next step:
“The natural next step is to promote diversity, tolerance and respect for all. These are values students will take with them long after they graduate.”
On its way to Gov. Phil’s pen, the bill was criticized for an undue trampling of parental rights and the sensitive-topic exposure of children too young to understand.
One nay-sayer: Republican Assemblyman Brian Bergen.
The way Brian sees it, “There’s a certain level of naivety that our children enjoy, and we should really protect that.”
The assemblyman believes grades 9 through 12 are more appropriate.
“If we as parents want to explain different identities or sexual preferences, then that’s our prerogative and our choice. This is not a decision for the school system, and this is not a decision for the Legislature.”
To hear NJ.com tell it, some assert its too late to stop the flow of information to 5-year-olds:
Supporters argued students are already talking about these very issues. Teachers need guidance to help them teach children to accept, tolerate and appreciate differences among them, they said.
The state’s already on the ball where certain groups are concerned:
The state…requires schools to teach middle school and high school students about the political, economic and social contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. New Jersey was the second state to mandate an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum — the requirement went into effect this school year.
Before the bill became law, by the fifth grade, New Jersey students were already set to have learned everyone should feel welcome, regardless of sexual preference or gender identity.
We’ve certainly crossed a threshold in the United States, and I don’t imagine we’ll ever go back.
Entertainment exposes kids to sexuality of one sort or another and complex social concepts at an ever-lowering age. It’s not surprising education is riding the same wave.
As I covered in June of 2019, Discovery Family introduced My Little Pony’s first lesbian couple, Aunt Holiday and Auntie Lofty:
What a cute couple!!!!! https://t.co/h7EroakFpQ
— mktoon (@mktoon) October 11, 2017
And in December, Cartoon Network released a gender-nonbinary comic teaching tykes that pronouns make them feel “safe”:
Here's to not only normalizing gender pronouns, but respecting them, too 💖 Whether you use he/she/them or something else, we acknowledge and LOVE you! Toolkit 👉 https://t.co/ZbhthybrdC
— Cartoon Network (@cartoonnetwork) December 14, 2020
It’s a new era, and public education’s keeping up with the times.
Back to New Jersey, the new law will take effect in the fall of 2021.
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