This is a statement from Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth, regarding the backlash to the Murphy Administration’s revision of health and sexual education standards. Advocates for Youth believes “reproductive and sexual health and rights are inextricably tied to social justice” and is deeply concerned, says Hauser’s spokewoman, about the GOP’s “crusade against the health and physical education state learning standards” and “the continued attacks on sex education in NJ and across the country.”
It’s disappointing, though not surprising, to see conservatives approach sex education in a spirit of glib sarcasm rather than actually working for the health of New Jersey’s students. New Jersey was among the first states to mandate sex education back in 1980. It was a bold and progressive move that was celebrated across the state. New Jersey also led the country during the height of the HIV epidemic, implementing innovative policies and providing HIV education to help thwart the rising rates—a model that was later emulated across the country.
It’s sad to see such a forward thinking state be pulled back into the dark ages, the victim of a misinformation campaign that has intentionally distorted what is taught in sex education and knowingly misrepresented our 3Rs curriculum. Unfortunately, those who will suffer most from this misguided smear campaign are New Jersey’s students.
Advocates for Youth is proud of the resources we offer, including and especially our Rights. Respect, Responsibility Sex Education Curriculum. It is evidence informed, rights-based and LGBTQ-inclusive. It scaffolds lesson plans so that students learn the age appropriate information they need as they grow. We believe NJ’s young people deserve honest sex education. We believe they have the right to benefit from 40 years of public health research that clearly shows the protective benefits of such an education. And when offered the truth and not a campaign of lies and mistruths, we know New Jersey’s families agree.