Hackensack Board of Ed trustee says teaching LGBT history is disgusting

LGBT history rainbow flag

Frances Cogelja is asking the school district to violate the new curriculum law

Hackensack Board of Education Trustee Frances Cogelja sent several emails to Acting Superintendent Rosemary Marks expressing her “disgust” over a new State law. The law requires that significant contributions by LGBT persons be included in middle and high school curriculum by the 2020-2021 school year. Cogelja describes the law as “repugnant” and “incredibly disturbing and frankly shocking.” In her email she says, “everywhere I turn, this alternative lifestyle narrative is being shoved done [sic] our children’s throats.”

Cogelja’s emails were obtained via an Open Public Records Act request for correspondence from all current and former members of the BOE regarding the new law. The OPRA request was made to ensure the district was planning ahead to be in compliance next year.

Rev. Carolyn Davis of The WorkGroup, a Hackensack-based community organization, denounced Cogelja’s statements. “Trustee Cogelja’s statements are homophobic, plain and simple,” said Davis. “These anti-LGBT sentiments are offensive to every member of that community and their loved ones. I’m asking that all of God’s Children be treated in a humane and respectful way.” Rev. Davis founded WorkGroup as a community organization.

“The fact that a sitting Board of Education member wants our schools to be noncompliant with state law, because of her personal feelings, says volumes to every student and staff member in our schools who belongs to an underrepresented group,” said Davis. “It wasn’t that long ago that people were up in arms about Black History being taught in schools. Trustee Cogelja has proven she is incapable of serving all our students and staff and should apologize and step down immediately.”

Hackensack’s Future is “deeply disturbed” by the homophobic language

Another community organization, Hackensack’s Future, said in a press release that they were deeply disturbed by Frances Cogelja’s homophobic and exclusionary emails. “Her clear disdain for the LGBT community is offensive, not only to those individuals, but also their loved ones and allies.” Hackensack’s Future is a group of BOE watchers that have run for BOE positions in Hackensack in previous years.

The new law is about ensuring proper representation in the curriculum. The law looks to recognize the positive contributions of members of the LGBT community to society. “There is nothing ‘disgusting’ or ‘shocking’ about celebrating our diverse history and recognizing underrepresented and marginalized groups,” said the press release.

“When you attempt to use your position to circumvent state law,” said Hackensack Future, “…and further marginalize the LGBT members in our community, including our students and staff, one should reconsider if they are best equipped to serve all children in a community as diverse as Hackensack.”

The email that prompted the outrage in Hackensack is here…..

Dear Mrs. Marks,

I read in the Record that our governor has passed a law requiring all public schools to teach about LGBTQ history starting in 2020-2021 school year. I find this incredibly disturbing and frankly shocking. I would like to know what my options are as a parent as I do not agree with this topic being taught to [___]

I find it repugnant that sexual preferences have anything to do with their contributions or achievements in society.

We have a large percentage of kids who cannot read or do math at their grade level, and our governor thinks we should be wasting valuable instruction time on this nonsense. I am disgusted and appalled.  I fear where we are headed as a nation.

Everywhere I turn, this alternate lifestyle narrative is being shoved done our children’s throats. Where does it end???

I’m sure most parents have NO IDEA about this law being passed and if they did, many would feel like I do. I believe strongly that parents need to be told about this. I will leave that to your discretion if this is something that you feel parents need to know. I certainly will be telling my parent friends about it.

What subject will be incorporating this curriculum material into their lessons?

Do I as a parent have the authority to “opt out” of this [____]?

If I need to appeal to a higher authority than yourself, please direct me.


Frances Cogelja