Trenton – Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg expressed concerns today with the New Jersey Department of Education’s proposed changes to Health and Physical Education Curriculum requirements.
“It is extremely troubling to see the Department of Education proposing less comprehensive sex ed standards than what was enacted in 2014,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “I understand teachers’ desire for greater discretion over their curriculum, but it is our responsibility to ensure students are equipped with the knowledge they need to be successful in the real world. Interpersonal skills and a thorough understanding of reproductive health is crucial to the mental and physical wellbeing of young adults. As it is, our sex ed curriculum has been given a ‘C’ by advocacy groups – we cannot afford to roll it back.”
The new Health and Physical Education standards that the Department has proposed reducing sexual education requirements to only abstinence and the failure rates of contraceptives. Previous standards required students to learn about pregnancy, methods of contraceptives, family planning including abortion and sexually transmitted infections.
“Every young adult should be given the tools to have a safe, healthy and successful life,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “To send teenagers into the world without teaching them about pregnancy, STIs, contraceptives, or human sexuality is simply failing them, fundamentally, for life. The removal of these as requirements at developmentally appropriate stages in their lives is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction by our Department of Education and I urge them to immediately reconsider their proposal. If they do not, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that these subjects are not optional.”
The proposed standards also lack a focus on trauma-informed, evidence-based sexual abuse and assault standards.