Proposed health education standards dominate discussions at NPS board meeting

NORFOLK Neb. -- The Norfolk Public Schools' Monday board meeting became a center of discussion towards the proposed health standards drafted by the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE).

Parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents came out to discuss their concerns about the sexual education portion of new policies put forward by the department. Under the new reforms, the state would recommend what schools should teach children about topics such as sexual orientation, family structures, and gender identity depending on their grade level.

"I have five great-grandchildren who will likely be attending Norfolk Public Schools," Margo Chenoweth-Pospisil, one of ten speakers at Monday's meeting, said. "These little people are the future of our republic, so if we want to keep our country a republic and not a totalitarian regime, we have to be very very careful, even in this stage of the game."  

NDE's drafted policies are not official, and a second draft is being created. However, the NDE has stated these policies, if accepted, would be up to the school districts themselves when it came to incorporating those policies.

"You guys are in a hard spot," said Diane Dickie, another speaker. "But someone has to stand up and say no. Because I beg you to think about your children and grandchildren. What were you taught in school? Do you want your kids to be taught this stuff? Do you want your grandkids to be taught this stuff? It's just wrong."

NPS has stated previously that they wouldn't take a stance for or against new policies. Instead, they will wait until the second draft of education policies is released. However, at the meeting, they did adopt a new policy that allows the school board to vote on new policies not required by Nebraska or federal law. This policy would allow the new health standards to be voted for or against if they are passed. If the school board were to dismiss a policy from the NDE, the board would create their own set of policies which would then be voted on following an open forum from the community. 

"It's encouraging I feel like- when there were so many community patrons that came and wanted to have their voice heard," Sandy Wolfe President of the NPS School Board said. "We appreciate that because as a local school board member it is our job to represent our community."