OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nearly 50 Nebraska school boards have objected to proposed state health education standards that include lessons for young children on gender identity and gender expression.
State Sen. Joni Albrecht said 47 school boards across the state have either adopted resolutions or sent letters opposing the first draft of the standards that the Nebraska Department of Education is considering. Albrecht was part of a group of 30 state senators who signed a statement urging school districts to object to the standards.
The standards would be optional if they’re approved, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
Under the proposed standards, kindergartners would learn about different kinds of family structures, including same-gender families. First-graders would be taught about gender identity and gender stereotypes.
Sixth graders would learn about a range of identities related to sexual orientation, including heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, two-spirit, asexual and pansexual. They would be taught the differences between cisgender, transgender, gender nonbinary, gender expansive and gender identity.
The proposal has faced strong opposition from Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has no direct influence over the state board, and large crowds have attended state education board meetings.
State Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt told school districts in a letter earlier this month that there would be changes in the second draft of the standards. He said that next draft will remove many of the explicit examples and make clear that discussions of sensitive health-related topics should be “thoughtfully conducted with parental input at a local level.”
“This is unfortunate as it has created a still escalating concern, and the board and I are committed to bringing that to a resolution,” he wrote.
Supporters of the standards say children should be taught scientifically accurate information to help ensure that students and families with different gender identities and sexual orientations will be more accepted and less vulnerable to depression and suicide.
Abbi Swatsworth with OutNebraska said the inclusive health standards could be “lifesaving.” OutNebraska is a nonprofit that advocates for Nebraskans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.