NDE removes ‘gender identity’ almost entirely from health standards

The second draft of the Nebraska Department of Education health education standards was released on Thursday, with almost no reference to 'gender identity.'

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The second draft of the Nebraska Department of Education health education standards was released on Thursday, after months of public reaction to the first iteration.

“Folks need to find common ground,” NDE commissioner Matthew Blomstedt said. “This is a very divisive time across a lot of different topics. Our students are going to be starting school this this fall and we’ve had a lot of distractions relative to that, so I do see [the second draft] as a reset.”

Instead of schools teaching students about themes related to gender identities, NDE expects those conversations to happen on more of a case-by-case basis.

“I do think it’s going to be important that at a community level, they’re able to have that conversation between schools and parents and the students themselves,” Blomstedt said.

The first draft was controversial to some, particularly the Human Growth & Development portion of the proposal, which outlined concepts like gender identity and sexual orientation that would have been recommended to be taught in schools.

The second draft was almost completely erased of  any discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation. In fact, the only mention of gender identity in the second draft is under section HE.7.7.2.d, which says that seventh-grade students will learn to “recognize that biological sex and gender identity may or may not differ.”

“There is an important notion of making sure that every student can see themselves in these standards and the importance of what we look at risk behaviors for our students from various surveys, making sure that students all can see that they fit into the conversations overall,” Blomstedt said.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, who was very critical of the first draft of the health education standards, made released this statement in reaction to the update:

“While this new draft of the health education standards scraps many of the topics Nebraskans found objectionable, the standards still need improvement. For example, this draft proposes to teach the concept of ‘gender identity.’  The continued presence of gender ideology in the standards leaves the door open for this material to be expanded either before these draft standards are approved or in future years when these standards are revisited.”

OutNebraska founder Abbi Swatsworth expressed her disappointment with the decision in a statement:

“We are deeply disappointed to learn that the second draft of the proposed health standards have largely omitted the reality of LGBTQ+ youth and families. A recent study by the Trevor Project suggests that as many as 1 in 4 young people identify as non-binary.”

“Nebraska schools need to be welcome, safe spaces for all students. This erasure does nothing to protect LGBTQ+ students. The fact that LGBTQ+ people exist should not be controversial. We will continue to advocate for medically accurate, inclusive standards for our community.”

You can review the second draft of the health education standards here.

NDE will seek out feedback from the public before likely putting together a third draft. Blomstedt said the earliest something would be officially voted on is in October or November, though there is no firm timeline.

Categories: Education News, Lancaster, Nebraska News, News