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This is a press release.
Middletown, N.J. – Senator Declan O’Scanlon, Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger and Assemblywoman Victoria Flynn (Monmouth-R’s) respond to the latest attempt by the State of New Jersey to limit parental rights as news comes that the Middletown and Marlboro boards of education have become the object of a lawsuit by the State’s Attorney General’s Office (OAG).
This legal action sought by the OAG would strike-down the districts’ gender identity policies which would implement a parental notification component if students should seek to alter their ‘gender identities.’ These policies would ensure that parents are informed if their child wishes to modify their identities in anyway:
“Listen, we are in uncharted territory with situations and circumstances evolving each day. This was not in a manual or training course, and these districts are doing their best to be accommodating, but also uphold the wishes of all the parents they represent. They were elected by their constituents to do just that and if the parents of Middletown and Marlboro want to be informed about what their children are doing then they have that right,” said Senator O’Scanlon. “Regarding the policies themselves, we have thoroughly reviewed them, and they do offer reasonable protections for children’s safety where such concerns exist. Additionally, every school board member I have spoken to is very open to monitoring the policies as they are implemented and modifying them where modification may be prudent. Rather than being adversarial for the sake of doing so, the State should be helping districts navigate these issues instead of being immediately combative and attacking the proposed solutions that have been offered.”
“Parents are responsible for their children in every respect until they reach the legal age of 18 years old. As such, they have the right and duty to know everything about that child, particularly something as difficult as gender identity and sexual orientation. It is not up to the school to keep information from any parent or guardian,” commented Assemblyman Scharfenberger. “Parents should have the opportunity to be informed as well as handle these situation as they see fit – not as a government or education system, sees fit.”
“I am unclear why we have local boards of education if the State is just going to continue to unilaterally dictate how local communities manage the student-parental relationships. Parental support is critical to help foster resilience and better health outcomes among the LGBTQ youth population. For the State to advocate in favor of removing parents from the equation is contrary to good public policy. Instead, efforts should be dedicated towards supporting children and families during this critical time in their development. These constant, adversarial approaches to this issue only serve to foster division and harm,” Assemblywoman Flynn stated.
The Legislators denounce this attempt to separate parents from their children. Alternatively, they demand efforts be turned toward combating COVID-19 lockdown learning losses and school funding shortfalls:
“There are so many obstacles facing students and kids across New Jersey, yet they never seem to garner the attention they should. We are fighting an uphill battle to protect these kids as well as ensure they have the tools available to them for a successful life down the line. We need to return the focus to helping these students in every facet and uphold our obligations to them and their parents,” Senator O’Scanlon remarked. “They deserve nothing short of this and we have every intention of returning the discussion to that focus.”
“Rather than engage in litigation against a duly elected Board of Education, attention should be fixated on the plummeting test scores and epidemic learning loss besetting our students. As far as any litigation, I’m surprised that the highest law enforcement officer in the State is not more concerned with the rising crime impacting our towns,” Assemblyman Scharfenberger noted. “Maybe he should be focusing on combating real criminals instead of insinuating that New Jersey parents are criminals.”
“This is all a diversion to what the focus at hand should be – the academic well-being of New Jersey’s students – which appears to have been lost on the members of this administration. The State must stop ignoring the educational needs of children and for once, double-down on implementing an action plan to address the real issues and support the academic and social emotional welfare of students,” commented Assemblywoman Flynn. “We have the honor of knowing the members of the Middletown Board of Education and other boards – they are all doing their very best to represent the interests of their parents and students. I would strongly encourage that the State reevaluate its adversarial strategy and instead engage in a more productive dialogue with the members of the local boards of education, all of whom volunteer their time to serve their community. Unfortunately, the litigious route is perceived as a direct assault against the elected officials in the Middletown and Marlboro communities rather than an effort to address the needs of students and parents on a very serious topic.”