Lawmakers look to block updates to NJ’s gender rules for schools
Controversial rules for schools adopted earlier this month by the New Jersey State Board of Education won't see the light of day, if some state lawmakers get their way.
Republican lawmakers in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature have announced plans to introduce legislation that would repeal the Board's changes to the equity code, which would, among other moves, remove gendered nouns and pronouns and force schools to enroll sex-ed classes based on a student's gender identity.
Some legislators are calling for a special session of Senate and Assembly members, in order to scrap the updates before they're implemented this fall.
"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 Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris. “Parents are rightfully concerned about their voices being dismissed while controversial curriculum gets pushed into the classroom with little to no oversight."
Bucco said the Board should be less interested in gender issues and more focused on recovering from learning loss caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Bucco and Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland, are still working on the language of a bill that would undo the code changes that were narrowly approved on Aug. 2, and give the Legislature the opportunity to approve decisions like these going forward.
Assemblyman John DiMaio, R-Warren, has legislation brewing as well.
“An age-appropriate, medically accurate education to help students as they develop physically and emotionally is being jeopardized in the so-called name of equity,” DiMaio said.
The Board's equity code needs to be updated every seven years. Under prior rules approved by the Board, implementation of changes is to take place within 60 days, rather than 180 days.
Schools need to follow the state's code in order to continue receiving federal and state aid.
Top Democrats in Legislature have also expressed concerns about the Board's vote — primarily, the lack of communication before decisions were made on sensitive topics such as gender identity — but it's unclear whether proposals to repeal the recent changes will move forward in the Senate or Assembly.