LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Board of Education has approved seeking state money for a comprehensive health program that includes sex education instead of through a private grant from a foundation that has been criticized for supporting Planned Parenthood.
The board voted 7-1 on Friday for the move. The lone holdout was Pat McPherson, of Omaha, who said he opposed the state’s involvement in public schools’ sex education curriculum and should instead focus on core subjects.
“I don’t have much trust in the department on this topic at the moment,” McPherson said.
The vote gives Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt authority to ask state lawmakers for nearly $112,000 over the next two years to be used to provide training to school districts on establishing programs and policies covering a wide range of health topics, including healthy eating and physical exercise, tobacco and drug use and sex education.
The state money would replace a $75,000 grant from the Grove Foundation to pay for the training. The grant came under fire at an April board meeting from critics who had concerns about the foundation donating to Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion and other women’s health services.
Blomstedt said during Education Board meetings this week that the department had been using the grant money appropriately, leaving decisions about health education - including sex education - up to individual school districts.
But Blomstedt said he decided last spring that the department’s efforts to help districts establish health programs should not be paid with grant money that was perceived to have strings attached to it.