The Nebraska Department of Education has released the second draft of proposed K-12 health education standards and they scrap an attempt to include gender identity.
The original draft drew an uproar from conservatives, including top state officials, who argued that the topics weren’t appropriate for children. Nearly 50 school boards passed resolutions or sent letters also opposing the original proposal.
The new draft removes gender identity and same-sex couple references from early elementary education, leaving only definitions, but leaves a 7th grade standard to “recognize that biological sex and gender identity may or may not differ.”
The second version also says “Parents, guardians, and families share in the responsibility of helping students learn the health-related knowledge and skills needed to maintain and improve lifelong health.”
It goes on to state “local school districts/school systems should provide resources for parents, guardians, and families so they can help their students become healthy, responsible, and engaged while promoting inclusive health education.”
The draft is drawing praise from opponents of the first version and disappointment from the LGBTQ+ community, OutNebraska Executive Director Abbi Swatsworth said the new proposal “largely omitted the reality of LGBTQ+ youth and families,” adding that “the fact LGBTQ+ people exist should not be controversial.”
A joint statement from the Nebraska Family Alliance and Nebraska Catholic Conference praises the department for making progress addressing controversial passages, but also says there are still some areas needing improvement.
Gov Pete Ricketts, who held a series of town hall meetings against the standards, agrees they still need work, saying “this draft proposes to teach the concept of gender identity (and leaves the door open for this material to be expanded.”