The GOP nominee for governor says he will end LGBTQ studies in public schools
Governor Phil Murphy struck at former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli yesterday when asked about Ciattarelli’s comments regarding education and LGBTQ issues. Ciattarelli is the Republican nominee in the gubernatorial election this November in New Jersey. He caused an uproar in the LGBTQ community for appearing at a campaign stop and saying he is against having kindergartners learn about “gender ID and sexual orientation” and sixth graders about “sodomy.” He also said he would “rollback” all the LGBTQ curriculum requirements in the state’s schools.
Murphy replied, “Dividing us is the last thing we need as a state. We came through that with the last administration. The last thing we need is use of words that are third-rail words. “Enough already,” added the Democratic incumbent governor.
According to The Gothamist, which first reported on the former Assemblyman’s remarks, at the June 26th campaign stop, Ciattarelli said: “I feel lucky [our kids] are in their 20s and I don’t have to be dealing with what you’re dealing with right now. You won’t have to deal with it when I’m governor, but we’re not teaching gender ID and sexual orientation to kindergarteners. We’re not teaching sodomy in sixth grade. And we’re going to roll back the LGBTQ curriculum. It goes too far.”
LGBTQ Pride month was ending in just a few days when the GOP nominee for governor spoke. He states that his views are more mainstream than the man he is trying to defeat [Murphy]. This was sure to get some news coverage media watchers said. It solidified Ciattarelli’s conservative and culture war credentials in the upcoming race for governor in New Jersey.
Of course, the incumbent New Jersey Democratic Governor, Phil Murphy, pounced. He demanded an apology and an explanation. Ciattarelli later explained his use of the word “sodomy” had “absolutely nothing to do with someone’s sexual orientation.” Rather, he wanted to highlight the “mature content being taught to young children.”
Garden State Equality (GSE) responded to Ciattarelli and his video by issuing a statement. “His offensive, uninformed comments are out-of-touch with New Jersey family values—love, acceptance, and compassion. Jack Ciattarelli has a long history of opposing our rights. He voted against marriage equality not once, but twice. Now, he is trotting out that same hateful, divisive talk that might have helped get him elected decades ago, but his angry, hurtful words are antiquated and should stay in the dustbin of history.”
“The overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans support equality for LGBTQ people and reject these bitter, angry tirades of discrimination,” said GSE. “When will candidates stop stepping on LGBTQ people to pander to homophobes and transphobes for votes? That old, shameful trick won’t work anymore here in New Jersey! His talking points couldn’t be further from what’s in the actual law.”
The curriculum Ciattarelli criticized is geared toward educating students about the pivotal contributions of LGBTQ people in history despite the persecution and barriers they faced.
“Inclusive lessons reduce the rates of bullying in schools and can save lives,” said GSE. “At a time when suicide and bullying rates among LGBTQ youth are still at alarming levels, we deserve elected leaders who will prioritize inclusion, not pander to far-right ideologues.”
“This was no slip of the tongues. Jack Ciattarelli showed us just what kind of person he is and what kind of leader he will be if he wins the race for governor,” said GSE. “We have to stop that from happening—we cannot go back. We must continue to push forward. Enough is enough!”.
“Assemblyman Ciattarelli’s ignorance of the LGBTQ curriculum and his willingness to diminish and demonize the LGBTQ community is exactly why this curriculum is so important,” said Democratic State Committee LGBTQ Caucus Chair Lauren Albrecht. “We still have a long way to go when the Republican Party nominates a bigot for governor whose views are this far out of step with New Jersey,”
Ed Potosnak, an openly gay member of the Franklin Township Board of Education said, “I am shocked and dismayed to learn Jack Ciattarelli is trying to win over votes on the backs of LGBT neighbors, parents, first responders, workers, and students. His dishonest accounting of the school curriculum is aimed at striking fear into parents—and exemplifies the very need for LGBTQ+ curriculum.” Potosnak is also the Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and a candidate for Council in Franklin Township Ward 1.
Back in 2015 Potosnak, who was then President of the Franklin Township Board of Education was targeted by a fellow board member, Pat Stanley, calling on him to resign after a graduation address included a reference to the Supreme Court decision released earlier that day granting LGBTQ couples marriage equality and sharing openly, honestly, and publicly that the decision was significant to him and his family.
“Ciattarelli is trying turn back time to force LGBT+ students and people like me back into the shadows—it’s eerily reminiscent of Pat Stanley’s failed attempt to kick me out of leading the Board of Education for being gay and openly speaking about it,” said Potosnak. “It’s bullies like this that are killing our kids, with LGBT+ youth more than five times more likely to attempt suicide.”