OMAHA — Members of a coalition that successfully fought against statewide health and sex education standards have launched a political action committee.
The members of the Protect Nebraska Children Coalition want to turn their momentum into victories at the ballot box.
The political committee, which was formally announced Thursday, will raise money and support candidates. Initially, the group will focus on school board races, but if it has enough resources, it may support candidates for other offices, said Katie McClemens, a director of the PAC.
The group has already endorsed two candidates for the Nebraska State Board of Education in 2022: Elizabeth Tegtmeier and Sherry Jones. Both candidates identify as conservatives.
“It’s not enough to just stop these standards; we have to have a next-level strategy, and that’s where the PAC comes into play,” McClemens said.
The coalition organized around opposition to statewide sex education standards proposed in March by the Nebraska Department of Education. The group grew to more than 20,000 Facebook members.
Their relentless opposition led the Board of Education to suspend development of the standards in September.
Supporters of the standards had argued that teaching schoolkids about gender identity and sexual orientation would stem bullying, prevent suicides and make schools a welcoming place for all students regardless of their gender identity or nontraditional family structure.
Opponents said that the draft standards amounted to political advocacy that would sexualize young children and rob them of their innocence, and that the standards didn’t reflect the values of most Nebraska parents.
McClemens said that one of the best things to happen over the last year and a half is that parents and other stakeholders have gotten involved in school issues.
“They’ve reengaged in their children’s education to the point that they’re willing to mobilize, to take action,” she said.
She said the group wants to build on its momentum, not only increasing voter turnout but supporting candidates who want to preserve what’s good and protect children.
“They’re putting themselves out there to run for these positions, and we want to come alongside them financially, we want to come alongside them with boots on the ground, and help them be successful,” she said.
Tegtmeier, of North Platte, is running in District 7. The incumbent is Robin Stevens of Gothenburg.
Jones, of Grand Island, is running in District 6. Maureen Nickels of Chapman is the incumbent and president of the board.