On Monday, New Jersey Democrat Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a bill which forces schools to teach students as young as five years old lessons in diversity and inclusion. The law states that instruction shall be given highlighting and promoting “diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance, and belonging in connection with gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, disabilities, and religious tolerance” in grades kindergarten through 12th.
The law, which would update the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, adds that instruction shall also include examining “the impact that unconscious bias and economic disparities have at both an individual level and on society as a whole.”
The bill’s sponsors, all Democrats, stated, “The natural next step is to promote diversity, tolerance and respect for all. These are values students will take with them long after they graduate,” NJ.com reported.
Some GOP legislators in New Jersey vocally opposed the bill. Assemblyman Brian Bergen said earlier in 2021, “There’s a certain level of naivete that our children enjoy, and we should really protect that,” adding, “If we as parents want to explain different identities or sexual preferences, then that’s our prerogative and our choice. This is not a decision for the school system, and this is not a decision for the Legislature.”
“The state already requires schools to teach middle school and high school students about the political, economic and social contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. New Jersey was the second state to mandate an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum — the requirement went into effect this school year,” NJ.com noted. “Under the new requirement to further examine diversity and inclusion, the state Department of Education must develop sample lessons and resources for schools, according to the new law.”
The proposal that was passed, Bill A4454, stated (formatting adjusted):
Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, each school district shall incorporate instruction on diversity and inclusion in an appropriate place in the curriculum of students in grades kindergarten through 12 as part of the district’s implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
The instruction shall: (1) highlight and promote diversity, including economic diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance, and belonging in connection with gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, disabilities, and religious tolerance; (2) examine the impact that unconscious bias and economic disparities have at both an individual level and on society as a whole; and (3) encourage safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments for all students regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual and gender identities, mental and physical disabilities, and religious beliefs.
The Commissioner of Education shall provide school districts with sample learning activities and resources designed to promote diversity and inclusion. This act shall take effect immediately.
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