Gov. Ricketts wants proposed sex education standards scrapped, calls some updates ‘age-inappropriate’

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 9:05 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 16, 2021 at 8:44 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A draft of updated health education standards in Nebraska has Gov. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) calling on the Nebraska Board of Education to eliminate certain sex education topics. The topics, he said, represent a significant shift in the approach to health education.

The standards, which show an updated date of March 4, 2021, include eight different topics:

  1. Foundations of Personal Health
  2. Nutrition & Physical Activity
  3. Substance Abuse Prevention
  4. Disease Prevention
  5. Injury Prevention & Safety
  6. Social, Emotional, & Mental Health
  7. Human Growth & Development
  8. Consumer & Environmental Health

The 60-page document lays out standards for each topic by grade level, from Kindergarten - 8th Grade, and then high school level health education. According to the standards, “the comprehensive health education program motivates students to maintain and improve their health; advocate for self and others; prevent disease; form healthy relationships; and avoid or reduce health-related risk behaviors.”

Sex education is found under Human Growth & Development. According to the standards, at the kindergarten level, students will learn medically accurate names for body parts, discuss different family structures (e.g. single parent, blended, inter-generational, co-habitating, adoptive, foster, same-gender, interracial), safe and unsafe touch, and consent.

At the first grade level, among other things, students will demonstrate ways to show respect for different family structures, explain that everyone has the right to tell others not to touch their body, discuss ways to respond if someone is touching them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, and define gender, gender identity, and gender-role stereotypes.

The standards increase by grade level, with gender identity and sexual orientation being one of many discussion points throughout a student’s education.

For example, this is the fourth grade section that details identity, sexuality and healthy relationships:

Image details the section of Nebraska Health Education standards for the fourth grade level...
Image details the section of Nebraska Health Education standards for the fourth grade level under section: "Students will learn characteristics relating to identity, sexuality and healthy relationships"(Nebraska Department of Education)

Gov. Ricketts issued the following statement last week:

“I am calling on the Nebraska Department of Education to scrap their proposed sex education topics that are included in their draft health standards. The new standards from the department would not only teach young children age-inappropriate content starting in kindergarten, but also inject non-scientific, political ideas into curriculum standards. The sex education standards represent a significant shift in approach to health education, and many of the new themes are sensitive topics that should be addressed by parents at home and not by schools.”

“The draft standards were developed with the help of political activists, and without the input of key mainstream organizations. I am urging Nebraska parents to speak up now, and to share their reaction with the department, so it can be made a part of the formal record to the full board.”

The new sex education and health standards can be viewed by clicking here. The public can submit formal comments by emailing

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