State Senate Minority Leader Anthony Bucco (R-25) plans to introduce legislation to repeal the contentious ruling on gender identity recently enacted by the State Board of Education.
Bucco criticized the board for focusing on gender identity policies, rather than updating curriculum that would enhance student learning suffered during the pandemic shutdown.
On Aug. 2, the State Board of Education by a vote of 6-5, narrowly approved amendments that removed gendered nouns and pronouns as well as referencing the word “equality” from the “Managing for Equality and Equity in Education” Chapter of New Jersey’s Administrative Code.
State BOE Rulings
The board also approved a number of controversial gender related school activities that were previously prohibited to transgender students, because of their biological gender at birth. The new guidelines will now allow transgender students regardless of how they identify, to fully participate within all gender related school activities.
Bucco said the legislation to repeal was needed in light of the “shortsighted policies” recently adopted by the State Board of Education. He said his bill would build a stronger partnerships between parents and their local school communities to ensure that curriculum revisions are made in the best interest of their children.
“Decisions of this magnitude should include input and guidance from the Legislature. A board of unelected government bureaucrats should not have sole authority over our children’s curriculum,” said the Morris County lawmaker. “Parents are rightfully concerned about their voices being dismissed while controversial curriculum gets pushed into the classroom with little to no oversight.”
Board of Education Ruling Challenged by Lawmakers
Since their ruling, a growing number of Senate Republicans along with other lawmakers on the other side of the aisle around the Garden State have criticized the School Board for not reaching out to elected officials, before publicly approving their controversial decision.
Lawmakers have raised concerns about the new rules reducing the amount of time school districts have to implement the updated policies from 180 days to 60 days as well.
As a result, GOP State Senators are calling for a special session by the Legislature to reconvene and repeal the disputed ruling by the State Board before they take effect.
Elected officials argue that the Legislature must work together with the board to resolve this issue amicably along with focusing their attention on updating school curriculum. This would allow lawmakers the opportunity to address the concerns of parents, who believe the real issues facing school districts within New Jersey is the learning loss suffered by students.
With those issues in mind, State Sen. Michael Testa (R-1) resumed his push for a bill introduced in March that would require legislative approval on any revisions made to school curriculum.
“We are hearing from parents that they feel like their voices and concerns are not being heard when they question what’s being taught to their children,” said Testa. “An unelected board should not have the authority to unilaterally mandate curriculum changes for all schools throughout the state without legislative input.”
Testa’s noted his proposed legislation is the result of over 850 comments from concerned citizens, with the vast majority coming from parental rights groups criticizing the School Board for overstepping its authority while also ignoring lawmakers.
“Not only should we repeal the controversial decision made by the state board, but we must also go one step further and require legislative approval of any action that would update or revise school curriculum,” said the South Jersey lawmaker. “I urge my colleagues to support these legislative efforts to give parents and their local school communities a greater voice in shaping our children’s future.”