Two New Jersey school districts reject state's transgender policy guidelines

The version of the transgender policy set by the state mandates that educators should not disclose a student's updated gender identity to their parents unless the student consents or if the student's health and safety are at risk.

Two New Jersey school districts reject state's transgender policy guidelines
AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
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Last week, two school districts in New Jersey decided to abandon their state-recommended policies for transgender students.

In Franklin Lakes School District, located approximately 20 miles east of New York City, the board voted 5-4 on Thursday to repeal its implementation of a transgender policy suggested by the state.

Not far from there, and on the same day, the Westwood Regional School Board also made a decision, voting 5-2 to reject the state's transgender guidelines, the Daily Wire reports.

The version of the transgender policy set by the state mandates that educators should not disclose a student's updated gender identity to their parents unless the student consents or if the student's health and safety are at risk.

Additionally, the policy stipulates that students who identify as transgender must be permitted to use restrooms and participate in sports teams that align with their gender identity.

The policy also encompasses a section dedicated to defining terms such as transgender, gender expression, assigned sex at birth, and sexual orientation.

Scott Loia, a member of the Franklin Lakes board who initiated the resolution to revoke the transgender policy, expressed skepticism about gender issues, stating he does not subscribe to what he termed as "gender nonsense," and that he believes that "less is more" regarding the policy.

Loia contended that school districts which chose to modify the state policy prior to its adoption have faced greater legal challenges compared to those that simply opted to eliminate it.

“What’s important is leaving the window open where a kid could be affected by this if a certain staff member does, for instance, withhold information from a parent. That is more important to me than anything,” Loia said.

The Franklin Lakes school board will be welcoming two new members in January. There's a plan to revisit and vote on the transgender policy at a meeting on January 23, but it's still uncertain if it will be reinstated.

Similarly, the Westwood district is expecting new board members next month, following the election defeat of four members who had strongly advocated for parental rights earlier this month.

Board member Irene Fenarjian contested that the policy carries an inherent assumption of "presumptive guilt" in relation to safety issues for students in their homes, pointing out that the district already implements "other systems in place for safety."

The Franklin Lakes district educates over 1,100 students, and the Westwood school district caters to almost 2,800 students.

In contrast, Roxbury Public Schools voted to maintain their implementation of the transgender policy for now.

Anne Colucci, a board member, criticized the retention of the policy, arguing that it "encourages keeping secrets from parents."

During the summer, New Jersey initiated legal action against four school districts in response to their recent policies that mandate schools to inform parents if their children assume a new gender identity.

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