Innis rallies against health standards, other proposed ideas

NORFOLK --  A gathering in Norfolk was meant to raise support against the first draft of potential sex education guidelines in Nebraska. 

Thursday at the Norfolk Public Library, Matt Innis -- the former Lancaster County Republican Chairman -- shared his frustrations about Nebraska's newly proposed health standards, stating that political activists are at the driving force behind the issue.

Innis, who ran unsuccessfully against Ben Sasse in the 2020 primary for the U.S. Senate, presented concerns that the Department of Education's proposed health standards are part of a political agenda. 

"I'm a grandparent and I'm concerned what my grandkids are being taught," attendee of "Nebraska Department of Education Exposed!" Jeff Schneider said.

Many agreed with Innis that the Nebraska Department of Education -- which is considering asking public schools to teach things including gender identity, sexuality, and critical race theory -- is on a dangerous path. 

"The first thing that comes to my mind is this is child abuse," said Diane Dickie. "When I was four or five I was in a foster home and in one I was abused by an older brother .... that has even affected me. I'm 58 now, in my relationship with my husband of 30 years. If that wasn't even a minute point of what they're teaching kids, that's just wrong. We're messing kids up." 

She worries exposing kids to potential health classes can be traumatizing. Emotions got so high that the police were called when a woman interrupted the presentation, saying she felt Innis was attacking the LGBT community.

Innis ended his presentation with a call to action, asking visitors to pray, spread the word and voice their opinion with school boards. He said he ultimately hopes the State School Board will be abolished. 

"I have kids and grandkids but that doesn't even matter. We have to protect children, this is stealing their childhood, indoctrinating them, grooming them," Innis said. 

Innis has been joined in his opposition of Nebraska's proposed health education standards by politicians such as Gov. Pete Ricketts and State Sen. Julie Slama. The standards were developed by a group of teachers, administrators, ESU staff and postsecondary representatives in March of 2020.  The Nebraska Department of Education has targeted a Fall 2021 approval date.

Even if the proposed health standards are eventually adopted on a statewide level, local communities can decide whether or not to adopt them.