BARNEGAT, NJ –   Barnegat Mayor Alfonso “Al” Cirulli just blasted a new law requiring public educators to update school curriculums to include contributions made by LGBTQ community members. Meanwhile, Cirulli admitted that he had no idea what would be added to middle school and high school studies.

In voicing his objection, Cirulli said, “The State is allowing the Garden State Equality Group, an LGBTQ rights organization to develop the model curriculum that schools will eventually be forced to use.”

Garden State Equality identifies itself as New Jersey’s statewide advocacy and education organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Jon Oliveira, Director of Communications & Membership, offered insight into the changes that won’t go into effect for most schools until the 2020-2021 school year.

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“We’re not talking about going into private lives, “explained Oliveira. “This has nothing to do with individual values, and that’s one reason students won’t be able to opt-out. It’s also impractical to remove students for select portions of classes.”

Current curriculums include references to both George Washington’s wife and Abraham Lincoln’s wife. “This means we already inherently talk about sexual orientation in what we teach students.”

Oliveira wanted to know what would happen if Pete Buttigieg became the Democratic nominee for United States president. “Are we going to just gloss over the fact that he is married to another man?” asked the Garden State Equality spokesperson.

Examples of How the Curriculum Would Change

“The idea is to update the curriculum with contributions made by members of the LGBTQ community,” said Oliveira. “The information would be broadly integrated into topics such as history, literature, and other subject matters.”

Oliveira provided some examples of state, national, and international contributors that he said have critical significance. Bayard Rustin, a black gay man, worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. to organize the March on Washington in 1963. He worked in the shadows because there were concerns his homosexuality would deter the civil rights movement against racism.

An English mathematician, Alan Turing was instrumental in the development of computer science and cracked German war codes. As a result, thousands of lives were saved. Turing was prosecuted when authorities found out he was gay.

“The police raided his home,” shared Oliveira. “He was chemically castrated.”

The New Jersey educational curriculum currently makes no reference to Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender activist.  Yet. Johnson came from Elizabeth, NJ and was a major figure in the Stonewall Riots in 1969.

Olivera referenced a 2015 Anti-Bullying Task Force report as the impetus for incorporating changes to New Jersey’s school curriculum.

“The anti-bullying laws introduced in 2011 were found to be the toughest in the nation,” submits Oliveira. “Yet, the task force found that bullying was still prevalent in New Jersey.  Something needed to be done to change the climate in our schools.”

According to Oliveira, the Task Force found that it wasn’t enough to speak about things at an assembly once a year. Instead, it made better sense to integrate the message in the classroom.

Already in Barnegat

“I am disappointed to hear the mayor’s feelings on this,” said Olivera. “Our Executive Director Christian Fuscarino, has already reached out to him and has not yet heard back from him.”

Garden State Equality worked with the Barnegat School system just last year on transgender student guidance. According to Oliveira, the organization has a good relationship with the district.  “Two Barnegat educators are members of the Curriculum Development team,” he shared.

Rollouts of the proposed curriculum will go to select districts in January of 2020.  All public schools will start the integrated program in September of 2020.

The Barnegat mayor was asked for comment regarding the examples offered by Garden State Equality. “I think the suggestions should have been made before the law was enacted,” Cirulli said. “They should have been introduced in a public forum.”

Cirulli again questioned why an organization would be allowed to put a curriculum in place. “We pay thousands of dollars to professional educators.  I won’t believe anything until I see it.”

“I still don’t understand why bringing out sexual preference matters to our children’s education,” the Barnegat mayor continued. “I see it as taking the rights away from the people to raise their children according to their religious beliefs. I will continue my fight against it.”

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at sfaughnan@tapinto.net.