A contentious program regarding the outing of LGBTQ+ students to parents in Hanover will be put on pause until a State Superior Court has a chance to hear arguments from both parties. And the issue ignited a social media back and forth between the governor and one of the more conservative members of the Assembly.
New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin said he and his office were “gratified that the Superior Court has temporarily prohibited the Hanover Township Board of Education from implementing its policy requiring school staff to out LGBTQ+ youth to their parents.” A judge will hear arguments on May 30.
The lawsuit, filed by Platkin earlier in May, seeks to block a Hanover Township Board of Education policy titled “Parental Notification of Material Circumstances,” that mandates teachers in the K-8 school district to notify parents on a wide range of factors if they are aware of “any facts or circumstances that may have a material impact” on a student’s well being. The state is objecting to parents being informed about the sexual orientation and gender identification of students within the district.
State v. Hanover BOE
Platkin argued the policy violates the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, and specifically its provision against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
The Hanover Board, however, pledged to fight the legal motions and said that the policy was not to discriminate, but to inform parents of things that could “adversely affect the social/emotional well-being of a child.”
Murphy, Webber Spar
The issue lead to a back and forth between Murphy and Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) on social media recently.
A strong supporter of the parental rights movement that has driven the GOP since the pandemic, Webber tweeted that “Parents love & know their kids better than AG Platkin & Gov Murphy do. Schools shouldn’t withhold info on kids from parents. Good for Hanover BOE. And shame on @NewJerseyOAG & @GovMurphy for suing to prevent loving parents from loving their kids.”
Murphy responded that “Sorry, @JayWebberNJ, but requiring school staff to “out” LGBTQ+ students to their parents is wrong. Coming out is a personal decision. We won’t allow government-mandated “outing” that puts the health of our young people at risk.”
Republicans Rally Around BOE
Upon release of the lawsuit, State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-26) expressed his support for the Hanover policy and proclaimed that the Murphy Administration was twisting the intent of the rule.
“Attorney General Platkin is trying to make this an LGBTQ issue, but that is not what the policy is about,” said Pennacchio. “Hanover should be applauded for making a real effort to ensure that parents are informed of anything that could impact the mental or physical well-being of their children. I stand 100% with the Board of Education and with parents who know best how to care for their kids.”
His fellow State Senator, Ed Durr (R-3), said it was no surprise that New Jersey Democrats were opposing a policy that aligns with the parental rights movement.
Protecting Parental Rights
“While Governor Murphy and Attorney General Platkin seem to believe that the cold embrace of a government social worker is all that any child needs to thrive, we believe parents are the best caregivers for their children,” said Durr. “Hanover is absolutely right to try to ensure that parents are made aware of any of the dozens of concerns identified by the new policy that could impact the well-being of their children.”
Closer to home, Morris County Commissioner Thomas Mastrangelo positioned the lawsuit as an affront on civil liberties, an attempt by “the state government to bully parents and attack local values.”
“This is wrong. It is a threat to our liberties and an attack on parental rights regarding the education of our children and the operation of school districts,” Mastrangelo said. “The intimidating action of the governor and the AG are a warning sign to parents and school districts throughout the state.
Open letter to AG Matt Platkin:
Dear Attny Gen. Platkin,
I read today of your suit against Hanover BOE regarding its new policy requiring teachers to report LGBTQ students’ sexuality/gender identity to their parents. I applaud your action, but wish to point out that one of the other broader areas that the District will require to be reported is “sexual activity” on the part of students.
While I recognize that there may be potential criminal conduct that may be worthy of reporting to parents and law enforcement, for example, if an underage student has a sexual relationship with an adult, in most instances, a sexually active teenager deserve the same privacy rights as anyone else, and so reporting to a parent that a teen student is sexually active, with another underage teen, or, if they are of legal age, with an adult, could be very damaging to the student, and may raise constitutional issues of concern.
Schools have no business invading the privacy of students by reporting their every activity, particularly the most intimate ones, to parents. This policy puts such students at risk for abuse by parents.
I therefore urge you to disregard Hanover’s defense by way of their citing a student’s sexual activity as a justification for reporting private information to parents. I would urge you to include this odious aspect of the policy in your lawsuit, because it is just as important as your action vis a vis the District’s LGBTQ reporting policy.
Thank you for your continued good work!
Have these folks who talk about parental rights—which is a position I usually take, keep government out of family relationships—considered that a student may have chosen to not inform per parents because of parental bigotry? That informing parents may actually subject the student to more stress by bringing to the surface a conflict that both students and parents would rather not have? How about we trust students, keep confidences that they share unless there is an actual direct threat of harm—basically, respect them as individual persons.
Sure, the GOP says they “stand 100% with parents who know best how to care for their kids” …until it comes to gender affirming care at which point it’s state government intervention time!
These Republican politicians are so disingenuous and gross. I wish they’d just come out of their greedy, Christian Nationalist closet and be honest about what their values really are instead of using these mental and rhetorical gymnastics that everyone can see right through.
And we all know that the “Christian National closet” has more than its share of hypocrites. Just think of the Falwell, Jr., “triple decker” (husband, wife, and poolboy) and Matt Goetz’s adoption of a nubile younger man.
Governor Phil Murph’s statement makes good sense!! However, this is more of an Parent’s issue & their inputs must also rate consideration!!//
If your kid isn’t telling you about their sexuality or their sexual activity, that’s a you problem. Teachers telling parents what students are unwilling to tell their own parents is only going to make those relationships worse.