NJ Attorney General filed a civil rights complaint against Manalapan, Marlboro and Middletown

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The Marlboro, NJ BOE meeting was overcrowded
The Marlboro, NJ BOE meeting was overcrowded. Photo courtesy of Say Gay NJ group.

The Manalapan-Englishtown, Marlboro, and Middletown school boards passed policies forcing school staff to out children that are trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming to their parents. A day later, On June 21, the Office of the Attorney General filed civil rights complaints against all three school boards.

The complaint filed a motion to stop the new policies from going into effect in all three districts while the challenge is pending.

“In New Jersey, we will not tolerate any action by schools that threatens the health and safety of our young people. Without question, the discriminatory policies passed by these Boards of Education, if allowed to go into effect, will harm our kids and pose severe risk to their safety. Simply put, these policies violate our laws, and we will not relent in protecting our LGBTQ+ community — especially our children — from discrimination,” said Attorney General Matt Platkin.

Garden State Equality’s Executive Director Christian Fuscarino said, “even though forced outing policies violate state law, anti-LGBTQ+ activists are gaining momentum as they push these proposals across school districts in New Jersey.”  He credited Attorney General Matt Platkin and Director of the Division on Civil Rights Sundeep Iyer for their swift and decisive action.

“School policies that single out or target LGBTQ+ youth fly in the face of our State’s longstanding commitment to equality,” said Sundeep Iyer. “Our laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, plain and simple, and we will not waver in our commitment to enforcing those protections.”

The Marlboro Board of Education policy says the school will notify parents of a student’s “change in gender identity or expression.”  It also rejects the former policy requirement that Marlboro schools must address students by their chosen name and pronoun. Additionally, the school can disagree with a student’s chosen name and/or pronoun used at school.

If “[a] parent/guardian of a minor student disagrees with the student,” reads the new Marlboro policy, they “would meet with the student and a school administrator to determine next steps.” Similarly, Marlboro’s revised policy too denies students entitlement to access school facilities in accordance with their gender identity.

Meanwhile, Middletown BOE policy states they will force out trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students to parents if they’re to “request a public social transition accommodation.” This would be a name or pronoun change, a bathroom or locker room accommodation, or club or sports accommodation.

The policy enacted by the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional BOE forces school staff to out students to parents if they “request a public social transition accommodation.” Therefore school must “notify a parent or guardian of the student’s asserted gender identity.”  It also states that for “students in grades Pre-K through 5,” the “responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student’s parents/guardians,” rather than with the student.

The actions announced by the state attorney follow on the heels of a civil rights complaint filed against Hanover Township Board of Education for a similar forced outing policy. The litigation challenging that policy is pending. The Superior Court has ensured that Hanover Township can’t enact the forced outing of LGBTQ student policy while the courts decide.