Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) released the following statement in response to recently introduced legislation to allow parents to opt their children out of school lessons based on religious or moral objections, which targets a law passed last year that ensures New Jersey classrooms have LGBTQ inclusive curriculum:
“As the sponsor of the inclusive curriculum law, I believe that its purpose was to ensure that the curriculum represents the diversity of the students in the classroom. This means that our children must be provided with age-appropriate lessons on the contributions and experiences of diverse voices throughout history – a diversity of races, religions, ethnicities, abilities, sexual orientations and gender expressions.
“Studies show that schools with inclusive curriculum have significantly less bullying around sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. This law will take a significant step forward in improving school climate for everyone.
“Unfortunately, the intent of Assemblyman Auth’s legislation to permit parents to exempt their children from lessons that they consider to be “harmful” is rooted in a lack of understanding about the benefits of inclusive curriculum.
“The inclusive curriculum law will ensure that students of all abilities, gender expressions and sexual orientations not only feel welcome in the classroom but respected. Paying tribute to the careers and achievements of members of the disabled and LGBTQ communities is not harmful; it is fundamental to changing our culture around intolerance and bigotry.
“The sooner we can bring inclusive curriculum to our students, the sooner we can expel the biases and bigotries that continue to exist around LGBTQ identities, and the sooner we can ensure that all students can feel safe and valued.”