New Jersey Judge Halts School Districts’ Gender Notification Policy

In a recent legal development, a judge in New Jersey has temporarily stopped three school districts from implementing a policy that mandates schools to inform parents if their child decides to change their gender identity. Judge David Bauman’s decision came last week, putting a hold on the gender transition guidelines that were recently introduced by the Manalapan-Englishtown, Marlboro, and Middletown school districts.

According to the policy, schools are obligated to notify parents if their child expresses a desire to change their gender identity, which includes altering their pronouns or name. Additionally, the policy covers situations where students wish to use facilities or participate in sports teams that align with the opposite gender. However, there’s an exception in the policy for cases where informing the parents might jeopardize the student’s safety.

The introduction of this policy on June 20 was met with mixed reactions. While some parents advocated for increased transparency from schools regarding their children’s decisions, others expressed concerns. A Middletown mother, who voiced her opinions during a school board meeting, was quoted saying, “I do not, will not ever co-parent with the government.”

Judge Bauman’s ruling aligns with the stance of New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin. Platkin had previously filed a lawsuit against the three school districts in June, alleging that the policy was in violation of state anti-discrimination laws and could potentially endanger trans-identifying students. The lawsuit highlighted the risks associated with involuntarily revealing a student’s gender identity, including potential mental health implications and physical threats.

Despite the film’s success, critics have warned against drawing direct correlations between non-affirmation of trans-identifying children and suicidal tendencies, especially given that many of these children also grapple with other mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety.

Marc Zitomer, the attorney representing Marlboro’s school board, expressed concerns about the ruling’s implications. He stated that the decision would hinder the school district’s ability to keep parents informed about significant matters concerning their underage children. The Marlboro district is currently considering appealing the decision.

State guidelines in New Jersey emphasize the affirmation of students’ chosen gender identities. They stipulate that students should be addressed by their preferred names and pronouns without requiring parental consent. Additionally, students have the right to use facilities that match their gender identity. The guidelines also mandate that schools provide equal access to educational opportunities for transgender students, even if objections arise from other students, parents, or community members.

The combined student population of the three affected school districts is approximately 18,000.