🔴 Five Monmouth County school districts have considered defying Gov. Murphy

🔴 Three districts are being sued by the Murphy administration

🔴 Parents demand to be notified if their child changes gender identity

Howell Township School officials were faced with a dilemma many other school districts are being forced to confront.

On one side: Parents demanding they be notified if their child changes gender identity in school.

On the other side: Gov. Phil Murphy's attorney general who has aggressively sued districts who have adopted parental notification policies.

(AP Photo/Pavel Golovki/@NJPECoalition via Twitter/Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office).
(AP Photo/Pavel Golovki/@NJPECoalition via Twitter/Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office).

Board members did consider adopting a similar notification policy, but at the conclusion of their most recent meeting it was ultimately decided to table the issue, for now.

The meeting was packed with angry parents and LGBTQ activists. As passions raged over the issue, members consulted with the attorney for the school board.

Even as Howell Superintendent Joseph Isola vowed to continue to put the interests of students first, it was announced the district's current transgender policy (no parental notification) would stand as the new school year begins.

attachment-NJ transgender student guidance 1

Monmouth County has become the epicenter of a fight for parental rights.

Howell is the fifth district in Monmouth County to publicly consider a parental notification policy that would directly contradict guidance from Murphy's Department of Education.

Colts Neck was among the first, but under threat of a lawsuit by Attorney General Matt Platkin, decided against any change in policy.

Districts in Marlboro, Middletown and Manalapan-Englishtown did adopt policies that require parents to be notified if a child changes gender identity in school.

Protesters inside Marlboro's Board of Education meeting 6/20/23
Protesters inside Marlboro's Board of Education meeting 6/20/23 (CBS New York via YouTube)

All three were sued by Platkin.

A judge has put those policies on hold while the lawsuits make their way through the courts. The issue is likely to end up before the New Jersey Supreme court and possibly even before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Little support for Murphy's trans policy

A recent Monmouth University poll showed strong support for parental rights.

More than 8-in-10 (81%) of parents support notification of any gender identity change in school.

attachment-NJ transgender student guidance 2

While the poll found stark differences in opinions based of political party affiliation, even 61% of Democrats oppose Murphy's ban on notification.

Despite those numbers, Murphy and Platkin have not backed down. Platkin has encouraged any teacher, student or parent who is aware of a district not in compliance to report them to his office.

attachment-Matt Platkin NJ Attorney General

What parents say about NJ's trans policy

For many parents, this is less about being transgender and more about their right to know what is happening with their child.

"I will never co-parent with the State of New Jersey," declared one parent. Another suggested if the state wants to co-parent, they should pay for half of the costs of raising a child.

parent rights protest
May protest in Trenton (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

Schools routinely notify parents about all manner of performance and behavioral issues so parents can address them at home. Why, they ask, should such a significant issue be kept secret?

What LGBTQ activists say about NJ's trans policy

On the surface, letting parents know what's going on with their kids make sense. However, they say, issues surrounding gender identity carry unique dangers.

No one, especially a child, should be outed against their will.

Doing so, they say, can put that child in harms way and potentially put their lives in danger.

Protesters outside Middletown Board of Education meeting 6/20/21
Protesters outside Middletown Board of Education meeting 6/20/21 (Margery Cohen via Facebook)

What happens next?

Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman ruled that the Marlboro, Middletown and Manalapan-Englishtown School Districts may not implement their revised transgender policies at this time.

In his decision, Bauman said "there is no affirmative duty for any school district personnel to notify a student’s parent or guardian of the student’s gender identity or expression."

Photo Credit: Edwin Torres, NJ Governor's office
Photo Credit: Edwin Torres, NJ Governor's office

The Murphy administrations ban on parental notification is likely to remain in effect at least through the first half of the school year.

An Administrative Law Court would be the next venue to hear the issue. That is not likely until late this year or early 2024.

Even if that court rules in favor of the defiant districts, more appeals are likely to follow.

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