Editor's Note: This letter refers to an article that appeared in another publication, namely the "Barnegat Leader," which is affiliated with The Sandpaper.
To the Editor:
I have been following with great interest the issue surrounding Senate Bill 1569 and Barnegat Mayor Alfonso Cirulli. I attended the Township Committee meeting on September 3rd, and heard that this bill interfered with people's religious beliefs since it mandates a curriculum having to do with sex education. At a prior meeting, the mayor stated that it was an "affront to almighty God." He also stated that he had a right to his opinion under the First Amendment. I decided to look up SB 1569 and read it for myself. It reads as follows:
- A board of education shall include instruction on the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, in an appropriate place in the curriculum of middle and high school students as part of the district's implementation of the Core Curriculum Content Standards in Social Studies.
- When adopting instructional materials for use in the schools of the district, a board of education shall adopt instructional materials, which, in its determination, portray the cultural and economic diversity of society, including the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
The legislation does NOT refer to sex education. In the mayor's Letter to the Editor, which The Sandpaper published on September 11, he misrepresented the bill and claimed to speak for the majority. The Sandpaper printed no rebuttal nor did it print a copy of the bill for its readers to see.
In the September 2019, Volume 24, Issue 9 issue of the Barnegat Leader, staff writer Eric England wrote a front page article covering the September 3rd meeting with the headline that read, "Cirulli Defends His Views During Heated Meeting" and "No Hate or Bigotry Here," Mr. England reported that this was a LGBTQ issue and that the mayor was expressing his right of free speech.
Mr. England failed to mention that this bill was about personals with disabilities and was part of the Social Studies Core Curriculum Standards. While the mayor has every right to his opinions, the right of free speech has limits. As an elected official, he has a sworn obligation not to disseminate false information to the general public, in his role as a public official. If he wants to shout his opinions at the local Wawa, he has every right to do so - but not from the mayor's podium.
The Sandpaper has thousands of readers who believe what they read is the truth. It has an obligation to its readers to do the hard work of checking facts and doing its best to be unbiased.
Thomas Flood, M.Ed., Barnegat resident