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Extremist groups linked to backlash over sex education standards in Nebraska

Posted at 6:50 PM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 19:50:51-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska State Board of Education has received harsh backlash from conservatives as they do the delicate task of implementing a framework of health and sex education standards for Nebraska public schools.

At least one comment made last week at a public meeting was particularly extreme.

“How many of us do you need to stand up? How many January 6th’s do you people need to see? I suggest you start paying attention?”

That comment was made by Sam Schlegal at the Nebraska State Board of Education meeting Friday, seemingly threatening an insurrection if the board doesn’t scrap proposed health and sex education standards.

As you'd imagine, board members were shocked when they heard it.

“I was stunned by that comment and that truly is how I felt,” said Maureen Nickels, President of the Nebraska Board of Education.

“So that is very scary as an elected official, when you see these insurrections and people were threatening them, I was fearful,” said Deborah Neary, member of the board of education.

Schlegel was wearing a QAnon shirt. QAnon, an online conspiracy theory group, has been linked to violence or potential violence by the FBI.

Some of its followers were arrested after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol that attempted to stop Congress from certifying the election.

It wasn’t the only group at the meeting related to extremism.

The group ‘Protect Nebraska Children Coalition’ has been organizing against the standards and has over 19,000 members in their private Facebook group.

The group’s webpage is linked to Family Watch International, a group designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The SPLC says Family Watch International’s founder Sharon Slater “attacks LGBT individuals…under the guise of protecting children," who she claims are most at risk of being unwittingly indoctrinated into the sinister "global sexual rights revolution.”

Board member Deborah Neary says she’s been getting consistent emails seemingly from one group with a boilerplate message.

“They aren’t there with the same intentions that most of the parents were there with,” said Neary.

Neary acknowledges that some people at the meeting were simply concerned parents that have moral and religious concerns with the standards.

“There’s another group of parents that are speaking from the heart, from their own values and I’m listening to them and I heard them and I know the difference,” said Neary.

The meeting also had several verbal assaults hurled at the board members, one woman compared the board to Nazis killing the Jews, another man compared atrocities committed by the Viet Cong in the Vietnam War.

“I wish I could say I was wrong in comparing you to the Viet Cong, but the Viet Cong had an agenda steeped in Marxism and Communism,” said Dallas Asher, who testified at the meeting Friday.

Board members say they aren’t going to be distracted by those comparisons.

“Labels, comparisons, hurt but hurt does not equate my discouragement, more than ever I am committed to the process,” said Robin Stevens, member of the board of education.

“It’s hurtful because all we’ve attempted to do and all the department has attempted to do is to put out a framework of standards that are medically accurate, science-based,” said Nickels.

Neary also says extra security was used Friday to ensure board members and staff were protected.

WATCH OUR PREVIOUS STORY: Sex ed standards polarize those attending State Board of Education meeting

Sex ed standards polarizes those attending State Board of Education meeting

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