Freeholders expected to reject new state sex ed guidelines at Wednesday meeting

The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ agenda for their virtual meeting Wednesday night includes resolutions critical of proposed sex education standards and one urging voters to reject the legalization of recreational marijuana referendum on the November ballot.

Freeholder Director Sylvia Petillo said she was “embarrassed to even talk about it,” when asked for comment on the sex education standards being proposed to go into effect in 2022.

“It’s extremely controversial material,” she said with “graphic sexual lessons” which, she said contain pictures of “graphic sexual acts.”

“As a parent and grandparent, the content of these lessons is appalling,” she said. “They violate my family values.”

She said the text of the resolution is similar to one put before the state Senate by Sen. Steve Oroho, whose district includes all of Sussex County.

The senator/freeholders resolutions note that the revised standards “further erode parental autonomy by promoting age-inappropriate sexual content which usurps a parent’s ability to determine whether a child is emotionally and intellectually prepared for instruction in sex education.”

The text notes there is an “opt-out” provision which “is not a sufficient protection to ensure that a student is not exposed inadvertently to graphic sexual lessons.”

On the Nov. 3 ballot will be a question asking for voter approval to amend the state constitution to legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana for persons age 21 and older and legalize the cultivation, processing and sale of retail marijuana.

The proposed resolution (page 251 of the agenda package) outlines objections both to the use and sale of marijuana on health reasons and calls the proposed tax on the sale “a paltry new revenue not likely to cover the lost revenues from the local businesses adversely affected by legalized recreational cannabis.”

There would also be added costs for the “added regulatory bureaucracy” and the negative health consequences.”

Petillo said she has often been to Colorado to visit her son and where recreational use of marijuana has been allowed for several years.

“They have seen a big increase in the expenses of social issues,” she said, and noted that the marijuana now being grown is much more potent because of hybridization of the plants, compared to what was used 30-40 years ago.

She said legalization has led to increases in job loss and other social difficulties and an increase in “vaping,” using products containing enhanced THC.

She said she fears that the state does not have the support facilities available to handle the social issues and that marijuana abuse is likely to move ahead of heroin/opioid abuse and possibly even alcohol abuse.

“And there will be an increase in insurance rates for everyone because of more accidents, more crime,” she said.

In September, 2018, the board, on a split vote, approved a resolution expressing opposition to the drug’s legalization for recreational use. The measure was similar to ones being passed by other county and municipal boards in response to an effort to have the state legislature approve the use and sale.

Petillo and current freeholder Herb Yardley joined Carl Lazzaro in the majority on that vote. Then-freeholders Jonathan Rose and George Graham opposed the resolution.

The board’s meeting will be held by telephone with the general public able to access the meeting by calling 973-310-7191. A public comment session is held near the start of the meeting for residents to talk about items on the agenda. A later comment session is for any subject.