State education board hearing on health standards marked by rancor, divided testimony | Education

However, no action was taken Friday since the department is still fielding feedback, which will be sent to a board committee for further review.

The meeting comes one week after the department unveiled the second draft, which stripped most of the sex education references that had been included in the first draft released in March.

The first draft ignited a wave of backlash, with much of the criticism targeted at the human growth and development portion, which contained lessons on gender identity and same-sex family structures. 

But those controversial lessons were absent from draft No. 2, which advocates say leaves out representation for LGBTQ students and identities. 

“You basically made a whole group of Nebraska youth feel unseen,” said Ruby Kinzie, a high school senior from Wayne, and one of the many young, LGBTQ people to speak at Friday’s meeting.

Others said sex education is a necessary tool to prevent bullying and suicide, in addition to incidences of unprotected sex, unplanned pregnancies and STDs. Those in the LGBTQ community, for example, are more likely to attempt suicide while in their teens than their peers, many advocates pointed out.

“Comprehensive sex education is suicide prevention,” Eric Reiter, who identifies as LGBTQ, told board members.