Local LGBTQ group says Sylvia Petillo should not be giving her opinion
Sussex County Pride condemned the resolution passed by the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders on September 23. The resolution was on the newly revised New Jersey state standard for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education.
The Freeholders’ resolution states “the revised standards include certain controversial topics on various social issues that interfere with the right of parents to teach their own children about these sensitive matters in a manner that comports with their core family values…”. When asked by numerous members of the public what social issues the board was so concerned with, Freeholder Director Sylvia Petillo refused to get into specifics. Petillo cited embarrassment as a reason not to answer the public.
“An elected official who is uncomfortable discussing sexual education should not be giving their opinion, especially when the decision is not theirs to make,” said Sussex County Pride in a press release.
“Opposition to comprehensive sexual education is something no one can take lightly. The newest standards for New Jersey students teach about healthy relationships, communication skills, gender identity. None of those are sexual but contribute just as much to a healthy individual as safe sexual health does.
“The phrase ‘family values’ has always been used to villainize the LGBTQ+ community. When marriage rights were a hot-button debate topic, conservatives didn’t oppose gay marriage, they ‘believed in family values’. The phrase was thinly veiled homophobia then, and it is thinly veiled homophobia now,” concluded the Sussex County Pride news release.
Sussex County Freeholder Joshua Hertzberg claimed the revised education was ‘politicized curriculum’. “Sexual health and wellness education isn’t a political issue.” said Zoe Heath, the founder and executive director of Sussex County Pride in response. “The only people making it a political issue are the same people who politicize the welling and lives of women and the LGBTQ+ community.”
During the last campaign for Sussex County Freeholder, Director Petillo was endorsed by The Family Policy Council. Last week, an article posted to the FPC website claimed New Jersey was forcing children to learn ‘pornographic acts’.
“We’re glad our Freeholders were inspired, but given the Family Policy Council’s track record on LGBTQ+ issues, we can safely assume their motivations are rooted in bigotry,” said Sussex County Pride.