Public officials demand the resignation of Board of Education Trustee

Hackensack, NJ Board of Education Trustee Frances Cogelja
Hackensack, NJ Board of Education Trustee Frances Cogelja

Governor condemns homophobic comments by Frances Cogelja 

Several New Jersey lawmakers issued condemnations of Hackensack Board of Education Trustee Frances Cogelja for her homophobic email comments. Cogelja is facing criticism from many constituents following her anti-LGBT comments made public last week. She had called New Jersey’s LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum law “repugnant.” Governor Phil Murphy added his outrage yesterday.

BOE Trustee says teaching LGBT history is disgusting 

“I was proud to sign legislation requiring public school districts to teach LGBTQ history. Hackensack Board of Education Trustee Frances Cogelja’s recent statements do not represent our values of inclusion and understanding,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

Phil Murphy
Phil Murphy

“On Monday, Hackensack Board of Education Trustee Frances Cogelja was met with sharp criticism from advocates and concerned citizens over her comments about my legislation establishing an LGBT-inclusive curriculum in schools,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, primary sponsor of New Jersey’s LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum legislation. “I am disappointed in her comments. But I am even more disheartened by her refusal to accept responsibility for her actions. Ms. Cogelja, if you will not do what is right on your own, I will. I join the voices of those who are calling on you to resign. No one who plays such a pivotal role in the education of our children should lead with ignorance. Now is the time to show our children what is right, love and tolerance should always win.”

Christian Fuscarino is the executive Director of Garden State Equality
Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino

“It’s imperative that each and every education official across New Jersey understands that our curriculum law must be faithfully implemented,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive Director for Garden State Equality. “You cannot opt-out of science classes or black history in a public school because of narrow-minded or ill-informed personal beliefs. Frances Cogelja’s constituents have made it clear that she must resign immediately.”

New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson released a joint statement that read, “The law in the State of New Jersey is unambiguous, it requires LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, consistent with our values of acceptance and understanding, to be taught in all our schools. We can’t stand by and let another generation to come of age, without the appropriate safeguards in place that will protect our children from hate. To nurture an inclusive school environment, we must recognize the profound accomplishments of the LGBTQ community.”

“Fostering a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students should be the objective for our teachers, administrators, and schools. Frances Cogelja must resign. State law requires curriculum to cover LGBTQ contributions and history be taught. If a Board of Education Trustee member finds that so repugnant, she shouldn’t be a Board trustee.”

Cogelja’s emailed statement of apology was sent on Monday afternoon. She said that she was going to explore her options regarding curriculum that “may be uncomfortable for my child and which may spark conversations that we prefer to have at home.”

Local activist Dawn Gonzalez, said Cogelja’s emails show she does not have the best interests of Hackensack students at heart. Gonzalez said, “I can only imagine what you’re going to be teaching your children at home. You don’t belong here. Not in my city.”

Cogelja, was first elected in 2018. She said she “will never” resign.