NJ mayor says LGBTQ curriculum will ‘destroy religious freedom’
BARNEGAT — Mayor Alfonso Cirulli used Tuesday's Township Committee meeting to speak against the state-mandated LGBTQ curriculum being introduced in middle and high schools, calling it "an affront to almighty God."
Cirulli, a former assistant principal, said that while laws are implemented with the best of intentions, "we've crossed over the line into absurdity" with the introduction of the law for the 2020-21 school year.
Cirulli made his comments during the "Mayor's Report" portion of the meeting and said the comments are his own opinion and do not represent the municipality.
"There is no hate or bigotry intended here. Everyone has a right to live his or her life the way they want to. But no group has a right to force others to comply with their beliefs, deprive them of their First Amendment rights and strip the rights of parents as to how to morally raise their children."
The Republican mayor of the township of 21,000 people is the latest elected official to criticize the new curriculum mandate.
The law does not teach sex or promote sexuality. The intent of the law is to include instruction and readings that "accurately portray political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people." Examples include women who dressed as men while fighting in the Civil War, the anti-communist Lavender Scare of the 1950s, the debate over the adoption and repeal of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy and marriage equality.
Cirulli said sexual preference is a "mindset" and there is no comparison between a person's sexual preference with racial or ethnic discrimination.
Cirulli noted that the law does not have an opt-out for students, which he said upset him the most.
"You can't opt out because LGBTQ individuals have contributed to our nation's history in the same way that women, people of color and immigrants have contributed. What does a person's sexual preference have to do with anything and who's business is it anyway? How would anyone know a person's sexual preference unless that person professes it and what is his or her motive for professing it?"
"The nation was established on a principle of religious freedom. Politicians have no right to promote the LGBTQ agenda through laws that that are intended to destroy religious freedom, especially our Jewish and Christian heritage," Cirulli said.
Deputy Mayor John J. Novak spoke in support of Cirulli and said it should be up to parents to teach things with spiritual or religious connotations.
"Parents have rights. If I want my child to learn about homosexuality either I will teach him or if I am ill qualified or uncomfortable doing it I will find an appropriate person that I think is appropriate to teach my child what I want my child to learn about LBTG and Q curriculum, not the government," Novak said.
Bridget Nunn, a resident who spoke during the public session after the mayor, said she felt like she was in church.
"I'm appalled that you would sit up here as mayor and spew what you just spewed out," resident George Fedzorik said. He asked what Cirulli was "afraid" of, a word the mayor took offense to.
"I'm afraid of the children being indoctrinated," the mayor said.
Garden State Equality spokesman Jon Oliveira said the organization was in an all-day retreat and could not respond to email Wednesday. He told the Asbury Park Press that "you cannot opt out of LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum just like you cannot opt out of science or black history simply because of ill-informed or close-minded personal beliefs."
Earlier this year, Hackensack school board member Frances Cogelja came under fire for an email in which she said she found the state's new LGBT curriculum law to be "incredibly disturbing and frankly shocking." She was also upset by the lack of an opt-out option.
Cogelja apologized for causing offense but resisted calls for her resignation by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Democrats representing Hackensack.
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