Republican Mayor Alfonso Cirulli of Barnegat Township, New Jersey, is angry over a new law that will introduce LGBT curriculum to schools and has launched a campaign urging residents to join him in his outrage.
The legislation, Senate Bill 1569, was signed into law in January by Gov. Phil Murphy. The law requires middle and high schools to include lessons on the contributions of LGBT people as well as people with disabilities.
Cirulli, a former assistant principal, told a meeting of the Barnegat Township Committee, “The government has no right to teach our kids morality,” according to the Asbury Park Press.
The 60-year-old mayor, who wants the new law reversed, declared the LGBTQ movement is “an affront to Almighty God.”
Cirulli’s position is that teaching teens about the achievements and contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people amounts to “indoctrination” and violates the religious rights of parents.
He also denounced the legalization of same-sex marriage as well.
The Park Press reports the mayor’s comments were met primarily with silence by those in attendance, although some citizens were quick to denounce his statements.
Peggy A. Houle, currently running for a three-year term on the Township Committee, told the mayor, “You are misusing and abusing your power.”
Briget Nunn, a town resident and mental health clinician who often works with LGBTQ youth, told the committee during the public comments period, “I understand that everyone is entitled to their belief and their religious ideas, … but what I have a problem with is when you bring them into a public forum.”
“As public officials … you have to be careful about what message you’re sending to these kids I’m counseling, who are already in your schools feeling like they’re isolated, alone and not getting the support they need,” she added. “The idea is to teach compassion, tolerance, and understanding.”
Radio station 1010 WINS reports resident Marianne Clemente told the mayor, “You think your speaking dais is a pulpit. You are not supposed to bring religion into this. At other times I have heard you mention Jesus in your speeches, and that is totally inappropriate. We have a separation of church and state. Damn it, adhere to it.”
Jon Oliveira, director of communications for pro-LGBTQ organization Garden State Equality, called Cirulli’s comments “deeply troubling.”
“You cannot opt-out of LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum just like you cannot opt-out of science or black history simply because of ill-informed or close-minded beliefs,” said Oliveira in an email. “LGBTQ history is a part of American history, and to hide or misrepresent who, how, and why we are here today means students would otherwise be learning fiction.”
A glance at Cirulli’s Facebook page unsurprisingly shows a litany of pro-Trump, anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda.