BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - 2018 has been a year of change on many levels. Social movements have reached all across the United States and have influenced many people, resulting in changes seen even in our communities. Berkeley Heights is no exception. Here in our small town, active students are fighting for their beliefs to improve our schools and, eventually, our community as a whole. At Governor Livingston High School, students are spearheading changes and spreading awareness. Recent GL graduate Nirit Rotenberg began a LGBTQ sex education petition at the end of her senior year in 2018. The purpose of the petition is to improve upon the current health curriculum at Governor Livingston to include everyone, no matter their sexual orientation. As of early November the petition had over 130 signatures, and was still gaining more. The petition holds a message of inclusivity and represents change. There's always something to fight for, to help improve upon, and that's what Rotenberg has strived to achieve. Since the launch of the petition, students have begun to take notice of the issue of exclusive sex education, making this petition an important mark in the school’s activism history.
Once a part of the SAGA club at GL, Nirit talked with like-minded individuals to combat social norms in health education. She looks to make the curriculum more inclusive by reaching out the board of education. This petition has inspired over 130 people to come together and back a cause that could be meaningful to the entire LBGTQ community.
Current GL senior Georgia Oddie continues the work of Rotenberg at Governor Livingston. She has extremely high hopes for the future of sex education in schools and hopes that this petition can help spread the message further. She said, “Inclusive sexual education is so important and same sex education is so important for all kinds of genders, all kinds of sexualities - We want it to be as inclusive as possible. We feel that's it's important to include gay people in sex ed and not isolate them and [have them] be told things that don't pertain to you.”
While the petition already has over 130 signatures, students can play a further role in bringing about this change sooner, and helping to show the strength and bond of the entire community. Oddie stated, “We appreciate as much support as possible. We know this is a big step and a big change. We would need as much help as possible if things work out. So we need to fine tune details. People could contact the board and also show their support, and show public support in other ways.” By asking for everyone’s help to show the petition’s seriousness, Oddie and Rotenberg hope to convince the board that more people care about advancing the sex-ed curriculum than previously thought.
The people of the LGBTQ community and the Berkeley Heights community have bonded together to hopefully make a change. As students of Governor Livingston, we can only hope to create a curriculum that inspires everyone to be accepting, making this petition a cultural landmark in our town.
Editor's Note: The Highlander section features articles written for The Highlander, Gov. Livingston High School's student newspaper.