New Jersey's largest teachers union has drawn criticism after airing an ad that appears to label parents who voice their opposition against inappropriate sex and gender indoctrination in schools as "extremists."
Amid the controversy over New Jersey's sex education standard set to be implemented this fall, the 200,000-member New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) released a 15-second ad on Aug. 15 titled "Same Thing."
"We don't agree on everything in New Jersey," the narrator says as the ad opens with pictures captioned "Pork Roll" and "Taylor Ham," a reference to New Jersey residents' long-standing debate over what to call their iconic breakfast item. "But we all agree that our kids deserve a world-class education. So when extremists start attacking our schools, that's not who we are."
Republicans RespondRepublican lawmakers criticized the ad, saying the union is out of touch with parents' concerns.
He also pointed out the apparent irony in the "take that somewhere else" narrative, noting the union's advocacy against school choice programs that allow families to flee low-performing district schools.
Murphy's Sex Education MandateIn 2019, Murphy signed legislation into law that would require public schools to incorporate LGBTQ-themed content into their K–5 curricula, making the Garden State the second state in the nation to do so, after California. Those contents have sparked a new round of debate after state Sen. Holly Schepisi, a Republican, reviewed the recommended lesson plans and made them accessible to the public.
Opponents argue that the sample materials are, among other issues, simply inappropriate for young children. For example, students are expected to define terms such as "sex assigned at birth, gender identity, cisgender, transgender, gender nonbinary, and transgender" by the end of fifth grade. Before students begin high school, they're expected to understand vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
Teachers are encouraged to tell second graders: "You might feel like you're a boy even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are 'girl' parts. You might feel like you're a girl even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are 'boy' parts. And you might not feel like you’re a boy or a girl, but you're a little bit of both. No matter how you feel, you’re perfectly normal!"
Facing an uproar against the model curriculum, Murphy insisted that it's age-appropriate. He also accused Republicans in his state of trying to foster division among parents.
"I think shame on the folks who are trying to separate us," Murphy said.
The NJEA didn't respond by press time to a request for comment.