In this Jersey Shore town, a new school board is sounding the alarm to the LGBTQ community and its supporters – The Morning Call

OCEAN CITY, N.J.—As the minutes ticked toward the start of the January 4th Ocean City School Board meeting, a mist blew up and over the bridge leading to Ocean City. School waiting for admission.

In the front lobby, Jacob Pender and others, dressed in rainbow-themed pride tops, will also be waiting.

Three parents who campaigned against New Jersey’s new health and sex education standards and “conservative values” and were nationally endorsed by Moms for Liberty.

The group sounded alarm bells after appearing in a city park on Sept. 8 with a pastor who condemned homosexuality and mocked gay marriage.

Ocean City has been called America’s largest family resort. But what’s really going on in the winter fog at the peaceful amusement park on the boardwalk and boardwalk a block away from the beach?

Ocean City’s goals are surfers and sunny beach days, idyllic girl-meets-boy beach rom-coms, stubbornly founded by Methodists whose debates of gender identity, sexual orientation, pronouns and pride are evocative. It is to maintain the image of a dry town. To the larger concept of how the town sees itself?

Who really decides what it means to have a mascot called the Red Raider?

After the election of the Earthquake Resistant Board of Education, these questions are reverberating on Facebook and on the island, which is home to about 11,000 people a year. He also has 2,000 students from Longport, Upper Township and Sea Isle City.

At that Sept. 8 rally, Reverend Gregory Quinlan condemned homosexuality, saying that Jesus Christ “defined marriage, defined family, defined gender,” and that “somewhere in that definition is LGBTQIA.” Do you want to see -XYZ?” (According to reports, the crowd yelled “absolutely no”). New board members who attended the meeting are now in a position to formulate policy.

Emotions were raw on January 4 as factions gathered across a U-shaped table in the school library and both new members and the queer community called for tolerance and acceptance.

“I have to say, ‘Oh my God, what am I doing sitting here?'” said Liz Nicoletti, one of the newly elected members. “This is not what I wanted to do in life.”

She recalled plucking her sons from a Christian school and placing them in Ocean City, but it closed during the pandemic. I was thinking of becoming an instructor. She stood on her hands as people chuckled.

“We know we’re on the conservative side of things,” she said. You deserve respect, all of us, even me.”

Lauren Knopp, student representative on the board, told the room:

This debate has been echoed in other schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where in Bucks County the Penridge and Central Bucks Boards of Education have decided to implement political and “social policy” in schools, including the display of the Pride Rainbow Flag. passed a resolution prohibiting teachers from raising the issue of , a group of parents have filed a report with police about the controversial book “Gender Queer” available in the Radnor High School library.

Nicoletti and vice-presidential candidate Catherine Panico won a three-year term, along with local attorney Kevin Burns. Robin Shaffer won his one-year seat.

Nicoletti, Panico, and Shaffer want to overturn August’s 6-5 vote under the previous board that approved New Jersey’s standards for sex education, and the guidelines include the end of sophomore year. By the end of middle school, gender is included, and by the end of middle school, the types of sexual intercourse are discussed. School districts can set their own curriculum and lesson plans. Parents can also opt their children out.

But newly elected school board president Chris Halliday, an Ocean City architect and father of two children, ages 6 and 8, said the issue would not be raised again. He said he believes the school district is properly implementing state guidelines.

He also said he did not anticipate a vote on teacher advocacy bans similar to the one adopted by the Central Bucks, and said he wanted to move to broader issues of academics and student well-being in general. rice field.

“It’s a little diffuse,” he said of the ongoing discussion. “There have been many arguments and apologies. We want teachers to feel supported.”

“This is a tourist city,” he added. “We welcome people.”

Three new board members are longtime regional conservative Seth Van Drew, who runs the Freedom and Prosperity Group and was narrowly defeated by Congressman Jeff Van Drew in 2018 when Van Drew was a Democrat. It has been coached by Grossman.

Republican Van Drew, who currently holds the majority in the House of Representatives, called for “my child, my choice,” requiring parental approval before teaching topics related to gender identity, sexual orientation, and transgender research. It announced that it is sponsoring a law called.

In a meeting held in the high school library, the two sides faced off in familiar fashion, and in the OCNJ School Discussions, a Facebook group moderated by Schaffer, the debate continued to exhaustion.

Pender, who is studying physics at Rutgers University in 2022, has deliberately tried to challenge those who oppose choosing a person’s pronouns, gender identity, and considering non-binary students. I wish

“It’s like a family town, the best resort in America,” said Pender. “They don’t want anything to do with sex. Parents don’t want to deal with LGBT issues. I hope.” It’s more of a vibe.

“Sex education saves lives,” added Pender, who confided in being nonbinary after graduating and uses both his and their pronouns. “Sex education has always been aimed at heterosexuals.

A former counter-terrorism analyst for the U.S. Department of State and a senior insider threat analyst for the Pentagon, Schaefer moved to Ocean City from Maryland to serve as Vice Principal of Special Education.

Schaefer, who lost the vote to become school board president, apologized to those hurt by the pastor’s words. .

“I like to see seats filled. I like to see people attending our meetings,” he said.

He said people asked him to ban Pender from Facebook groups, but he didn’t.

He said the issue with state standards is age appropriateness.

“It has to do with values ​​and my role as a parent and a father,” Schaeffer said. That’s where I really have a problem with pushing some of these concepts down to the age of five.”

He said he wasn’t trying to bury the town’s hard truths in the sand. He also filed a warning letter in 2012 with the Calvert County School Board accusing him of inappropriate physical and verbal interactions with unruly students during his tenure as Vice Principal of Maryland. It was also transparent about losing an administrative appeal.

“I moved my family to Ocean City because I believed in idyllic Ocean City,” he said. He was unaware of the problems beneath the town’s veneer, such as multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment filed against members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol.

“I wouldn’t be the party to sweep problems under the carpet as the town of Hallmark Strait looks like,” he said.

“I think there are some forces at work right now that are pushing the boundaries,” he said. “I know teachers who are reluctant to teach concepts that are better left to parents.”

Addressing those worried about the election, he said: They will be pleasantly surprised. ”

(c)2023 Philadelphia Inquirer

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. In this Jersey Shore town, a new school board is sounding the alarm to the LGBTQ community and its supporters – The Morning Call

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