A debate over the state-mandated LGBT history curriculum has been at a center of a heated battle between the Jersey City Board of Education and the members of the Coptic Christian, Muslim, and Orthodox Jewish community prompting gay Board of Ed Trustee Gerald Lyons to drape an rainbow PRIDE flag over his shoulders in response to the extreme anti-gay rhetoric the religious groups have been using.
The groups argue that their freedom of religion and the First Amendment are being attacked.
Johnny Yacob, a Coptic Christian from Jersey City attacked a lesson on Harvey Milk claiming that Milk was a pedophile, “Basically, they are glorying him and creating an icon out of him and to be completely honest is that really who we want our kids to look up to?”
Elizor Richtor, a Hasidic Jew, said the schools are teaching children to be gay. “Martin Luther King is turning over in his grave that people think this is what he meant he said equality,
Board members have tried to repeatedly explain that the district will be teaching about LGBT members’ role in history to no avail.
Lyons while still wearing the rainbow flag draped over his shoulders called the comments hateful and said he was offended that Richtor used King’s name “to spread his message of hate.”
As Lyons spoke,a member of the Hasidic Jewish community walked up closer to the board and stared down Lyons.
“Do you have an issue? Do you want to sit back down?” Lyons said. “Did I sit while you were talking spewing your hatred? I did.”
New Jersey is only the second state in the nation after California to pass a law requiring LGBT curriculum, which will be determined by the board. The Department of Education sets academic standards, but does not write curriculum.