Hansen among senators who object to health education standards proposal

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Twenty-eight Nebraska state senators, including District 16 Sen. Ben Hansen, are objecting to the proposed state health education standards that include lessons on gender identity and gender stereotypes.

The senators sent a joint letter to the Nebraska State Board of Education, which heard more than three hours of testimony from opponents and proponents of the proposal Friday.

The Nebraska Legislature has repeatedly rejected efforts to mandate comprehensive sex education curriculum. The letter calls the the proposal “a back door attempt to propose what the people of this state have rejected.”

“We understand the current draft is the first, and that the process of revision will take time,” the letter said. “However, we find the content and tenor of this first draft so problematic that it demands immediate attention.”

According to the 60-page proposal, students in kindergarten would be taught about same-sex couples.

In first grade, gender identity would be defined. Third-graders would learn about sexual orientation, while fourth-graders would learn the difference between gender identity and gender assigned at birth.

In his legislative update last week, Hansen said he had received numerous letters from constituents in Washington, Burt and Cuming counties.

“The Nebraska Department of Education should scrap this proposal as it would, in my opinion, only lead to increased confusion,” he said. “It is totally inappropriate for our school system and would force our teachers to discuss sensitive topics that should be held at the student's home with their parents.”

The board took no action Friday. Nebraska Education Commissioner said the board will review the comments and survey responses and then rewrite the draft in light of public input. The next version will not likely be ready until midsummer. A final vote is expected in the fall.

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