The parents of students enrolled at the Hoboken Public Schools have until October 11th to opt out of their sex ed curriculum, which now includes teaching about gender and sexual orientation in 5th grade due to updated health curriculum guidelines adopted by the state.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“As you may be aware, the New Jersey Department of Education revised the Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Standards. All districts in New Jersey were required to revise curriculum in both of these areas and present new standards to students at the start of the 2022-2023 school year,” an email from Hoboken Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Johnson sent to parents and guardians this afternoon says.
“The Comprehensive Health Standards have received both support and objections by families across the state. These standards and the learning expectations are broken down by the end of Grade 2, Grade 5, Grade 8, and Grade 12. It is then up to each individual school district to unpack the standards and develop units of study at all grade levels that are both aligned to and meet the overall learning expectations by the end of each of these four grades.”
State health standards haven been broken down into three topics: personal and mental health, physical wellness, and safety.
In the Mile Square City, the board of education has broken it down further into five topics in kindergarten through 5th grade: emotional health and conflict resolution, human development and life skills, nutrition and personal health, alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, and safety.
Other slight variations of this model have been adopted for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.
“In grades K, 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 all of the standards addressed in the Comprehensive Health Curriculum have been traditionally taught in school for years,” Johnson noted in the email.
“In grades 2 and 5, the units on Human Development & Life Skills both contain revised or new standards. And, in Grade 8, the unit on Dating, Relationships & Violence Prevention and the unit on The Life Cycle both contain revised or new standards.”
According to a copy of the 2nd grade curriculum, students will learn the medical names for body parts and “defining the term reproduction.” There is also an emphasis on identifying uncomfortable situations in which they should seek a trusted adult for help.
As for the 5th grade curriculum, which has caused some outrage in other parts of the state, students will learn how pregnancy can be achieved, how their bodies change during puberty, and learn LGBTQ+ vocabulary related to gender identity.
Finally, the 8th grade curriculum highlights how to maintain healthy relationships and make healthy choices, how to prevent violence, cope with abuse, deal with peer pressure, understanding your body systems, as well as identifying communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Johnson also pointed out that none of the new programs will be taught during the school day, but rather during info sessions at the high school cafeteria or home learning.
“Families will have the three (3) options regarding these units of study. The first is to bring their 2nd, 5th, or 8th grade child to the Workshop where lessons will be delivered by certified professionals. The second is to teach the material we have provided at home. And, the third is to opt out of these units of study,” the superintendent explained.
The three workshops will be held in the high school cafeteria on three consecutive days in November between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The 2nd grade session is scheduled for November 15th, the 5th grade session is set for November 16th, and the 8th grade session is slated for November 17th.
“If you are comfortable with your child receiving Health instruction as delivered innovatively during physical education activities at the elementary level, during the Personal Growth Program offered on the 5 half days at the K-8 level, or during Health classes at the middle school level, you simply need to indicate that you do not wish to opt your child out of any unit on the Google Form below,” Johnson explained.
“If there is any content that you would like your child to opt out of, please be specific when completing and submitting this form. If your child does opt out, the school will provide a quiet space to read, complete homework, or engage in another learning activity.”
Johnson concluded that an info session for anyone seeking additional information will be held at the multi-purpose room at the Calabro School, located at 524 Park Ave., on October 6th at 6 p.m., as well as that responses must be submitted by Tuesday, October 11th.
The New Jersey Department of Education detailed why they made these changes over the course of 66 pages, which can be read here.