This past Monday, May 17, the Assembly Health Committee met through Zoom as the statehouse continues to operate under draconian emergency shutdown orders. One particular bill that was discussed in the public hearing that should be of concern to parents across the state is A5597. This would amend the current law that gives schools the ability to administrate student surveys on sensitive issues including sexual behaviors and attitudes, drug use, physical activity and eating habits.
Presently, schools in New Jersey must send home forms for parents to grant permission for their student to participate in these personal and probing sexual health surveys. According to the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, schools must allow parents to opt in or opt out, but no student is required to take part in these surveys.
The proposed change in New Jersey law would remove the requirement for parents to actively opt their student into the health surveys. Instead, every student would be passively opted into the survey unless their parent in writing requested for them to be excused from the survey. If a parent overlooks an email, misplaces an unopened letter, or the child forgets or even intentionally does not give their mom the opt out form – then the student will be surveyed about their sexual beliefs and activity.
What is the reason for this change? According to the language of the bill, not enough parents are giving schools the permission to ask their children these sex-based health questions. What do the bill sponsors recommend as the solution? Simple: stop asking the parents for their permission!
Jennie Lamon, of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, testified that this type of major change would further damage relationships the public schools have with parents. She expressed the level of mistrust and deception parents already feel will only be exacerbated by this overreach of state government to remove the parent once again from the equation!
I could not agree more.
I spoke to the policy director of the primary sponsor Assemblyman Herb Conaway last Friday about our concerns. Unfortunately, those concerns went unaddressed. Look for a future call to action if the bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health Committee.
Here are the votes of the Assembly Health Committee from this past Monday:
YES vote = I do not believe schools should ask parents for their permission
NO vote = I do believe schools should ask parents to actively grant permission
|Herb Conaway, Delran (D) – Chair
|DeAnne DeFuccio, Cresskill (R)
|Angelica Jimenez, West New York, (D) – Vice-Chair
|Nancy Munoz, Summit (R)
|John Armato, Northfield (D)
|Erik Peterson, Clinton (R)
|Daniel Benson, Hamilton Square (D)
|Brian Rumpf, Forked River (R)
|Jamel Holley, Union (D)
|Shanique Speight, Newark (D)
|Sterley Stanley, East Brunswick (D)
|Christopher Tully, Paramus (D)
|Anthony Verrelli, Trenton (D)
Protecting your family,