New Jersey Attorney General sues school board for policy that allegedly targets LGBTQ+ students

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Thursday, May 18, 2023
NJ school board policy could out LGBTQ+ students: AG lawsuit
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The New Jersey Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against a policy enacted by the Hanover Township Board of Education.

HANOVER, New Jersey (WABC) -- The New Jersey Attorney General is seeking to prohibit a policy enacted by a school board that he said targets LGBTQ students.

The Parental Notice of Material Circumstances went into effect this week in the Hanover school district and requires school staff members to notify school administrators and parents if they are made aware of "any facts or circumstances that may have a material impact on a student's physical or mental health and social or emotional well-being," according to a release from the Hanover Township Board of Education.

Faculty would have to alert administrators or parents about a long list of issues including sexual activity, sexuality, sexual orientation, transitioning, gener identity or expression.

AG Matthew Platkin said the policy could lead to discrimination against students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and target transgendered students.

The complaint also asserts that the parental notification policy could have a disparate impact on LGBTQ+ youth, because it, "requires school staff to 'out' LGBTQ+ youth to their parents," according to a release from the AG's office.

"We will always stand up for the LGBTQ+ community here in New Jersey and look forward to presenting our arguments in court in this matter," said Platkin. "We are extremely proud of the contributions LGBTQ+ students make to our classrooms and our communities, and we remain committed to protecting them from discrimination in our schools."

Parents also voiced their concerns about the new policy.

"I think that the policy that was voted on by the board of education is unbelievably discriminatory against LGBTQ+ children and it takes away a safe haven kids might need," parent Stephanie Eagan said.

One of New Jersey's leading LGBTQ organizations is calling the policy danergous because it could target students based on sexual orientation.

"Anti-LGBTQ policies passed by school boards are not just harmful, they are insidious manifestations of discrimination and bigotry that perpetuate oppression," Christian Fuscarino with Garden State Equality said.

The AG has filed a civil rights complaint and a motion in Superior Court requesting to maintain status quo while litigation is pending.

This injunction would not prevent school staff from reporting illegal activity or notifying parents about concerns unrelated to characteristics protected under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

The Hanover Board of Education said the AG made "erroneous assertions" and the policy does not "unlawfully discriminate against students on basis on basis of any protected status," according to a statement released by the board.

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