The second draft of Nebraska’s Health Education Standards significantly weakens the inclusion of medically-accurate and age-appropriate essential elements—STD and pregnancy prevention, sexual orientation, gender identity, consent and diverse family structures—resulting in a complete departure from what medical experts and decades of research clearly demonstrate is effective health education. By removing these topics, the second draft fails to align with not only best practices in the health education field, but also the State Board of Education’s own Nondiscrimination and Equitable Educational Opportunities in Schools Position Statement, which states that all students should be “known, heard and supported.”
Fear, shame and misinformation should not be leading this conversation. Education is for everyone. The State Board of Education has the opportunity right now to set the standard for health education in our state—standards that meet best practices and are inclusive of all students. The final draft of the health standards should be reflective of all young people in our state, including LGBTQ+ young people, youth of color, and their families. The final draft of the health education standards should include medically accurate, evidence-informed concepts that have been proven to prevent or reduce negative health outcomes, such as unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
We call upon the State Board of Education to do the right thing for all children in our state, including those whose identities, mental well-being and lives could greatly benefit from complete, inclusive and equitable health education. All young people need to be seen, heard and supported.