LAWRENCEVILLE, New Jersey (LifeSiteNews) — A school board attorney in New Jersey struck a defiant tone against parents’ objections to LGBT classroom material, putting into stark clarity many public educators’ view of parental rights.
Fox News reports that parents gathered October 19 at a Lawrence Township Board of Education meeting to object to the district’s policies stating that it “shall accept a student’s asserted gender identity” without parental consent. “A student need not meet any threshold diagnosis or treatment requirements to have his or her gender identity recognized and respected by the school district, school, or school staff members […] in addition, a legal or court-ordered name change is not required. There is no affirmative duty for any school district staff member to notify a student’s parent of the student’s gender identity or expression.”
State learning standards also hold that school boards “shall include instruction on the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, in an appropriate place in the curriculum of middle school and high school students as part of the district’s implementation” of state learning standards.
At the meeting, parents raised examples of this “instruction,” from a picture book for kindergarteners about a boy who wants to wear a dress to school, to a lesson using a “gender snowperson” as an illustrative tool to convey that children can be whatever gender they choose.
In response, Lawrence school board attorney John Comegno argued that the right of parents “is not to dictate what their children are taught, it is to determine where they attend.”
“If your students attend these awesome schools, they’re going to be instructed in this curriculum, which is consistent with state learning standards,” he said. “That’s not binding. If you choose to have your child attend elsewhere, that’s your right. That’s your right as a parent.”
Comegno also suggested that the matter was out of local officials’ hands, and parents should take their complaints elsewhere. “If there is a concern or a criticism about policy or learning standards in the State of New Jersey, you have a right to be heard,” he said. “Go to the NJDOE, talk to your elected officials – but not here, [school board members] are powerless when it comes to what the NJDOE says is required or not required.”
“Parents in this district are objecting to content for very young children that an overwhelming majority of parents oppose, and they are met with condescension and disdain,” Parents Defending Education outreach director Erika Sanzi told Fox in response. “These districts are happy to shame families out of the district while gleefully holding onto the tax dollars they leave behind. The best remedy is to vote in new board members who will listen to families and tell a guy like this to stand down.”
Effective starting last month, New Jersey Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy’s standards require public school children to be taught to understand the concepts of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation by the “end of Grade 2.” Second-graders will be expected to be able to “differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity,” and “Demonstrate ways to promote dignity and respect for all people (e.g. sexual orientation, gender identity and expression).”
Other examples of controversial LGBT classroom content in the Garden State this past year include a video on testosterone injections shown to middle-schoolers in Kinnelon.
Across the country, such policies and materials have triggered a conservative backlash, led by Florida and Virginia enacting policies that limit controversial and age-inappropriate lessons and give parents greater knowledge of and input over what their children learn.