LINCOLN, Neb. — Anger and frustration boiled over at Friday morning's state board of education meeting as dozens of parents and concerned community members let the board know they still aren’t happy with their work on sex education standards, and they plan to keep fighting back until they see something change.
“These children do not belong to the Nebraska Department of Education, they belong to the parents! And if they need help we should be the ones giving it to them!” yelled one of the testifiers at Friday’s board meeting.
Over the last year and a half, the Nebraska State Board of Education’s monthly meetings have become ground zero for the culture war that has swept across our nation.
The meetings are always contentious and it didn’t take long for emotions to run high on Friday after a motion was presented to limit public testimony to two minutes per person to save time, a suggestion that saw immediate backlash from the crowd.
“Shame on you, twenty minutes? Twenty minutes! You can't give us twenty minutes? Shame on you, you are all liars except for Kirk Penner and thank you Governor Ricketts for appointing him,” said another testifier at Friday’s meeting.
Penner, the newest member of the board recently appointed by Ricketts, was a popular figure at Friday’s meeting.
He has been an outspoken opponent of the health standards that were introduced by the board in 2021 and brought his own motions to postpone any further development of the standards, as well as a motion to prevent the board from developing any standards unless its required by statute.
“Ten months of trying to jam some of this stuff down kids' throats is phenomenal and to not be able to understand that parents want control of teaching our kids the three items I talked about here — sex education, sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s the parents and the local school boards,” said Penner.
It wasn’t just sex education standards that were bothering Penner and the crowd at Friday’s meeting, but also what books might be appearing on school’s library shelves, with Penner and several others sharing passages of books from school libraries they found offensive or inappropriate.
PARENTS SPEAK OUT ABOUT THEIR CHILD'S SCHOOL LIBRARY BOOKS
“If those TV cameras were here they wouldn’t be recording what I am saying. They would not say she put the “expletive” in her mouth, they would not put that on TV but we are going to let our kids read that in a book in the library and then have a superintendent and a professor of youth literature or other parents are saying I am OK with it,” said Penner.
Both of Penner’s motions would fail on a 1-7 vote but the size and fervor of the crowd made it clear the State Board of Education will remain a battleground for some time to come.
“The army of opposition is continuing to grow, it's growing exponentially and we encourage you to vote yes on Penner's motion, thank you,” said another testifier.