Two seventh graders – let’s call them Dick and Jane – are spotted in the school yard holding hands and kissing.
A teacher may think they’re a bit young for such affection, but that teacher is under no obligation to report the young couple to their parents.
But if the youngsters are both boys – or girls – that’s another matter.
The school board in Hanover Township, Morris County, seems to have opened itself to a charge of discrimination by adopting a policy that treats gay students differently from others.
The policy requires that parents be notified if school staff members become aware of, among other things, a student’s “sexual orientation, transitioning, gender identity or expression.” (Some of the other instances of student behavior that require parental notification are such things as eating disorders, depression, theft, and vandalism; nothing controversial here.) The state Attorney General’s Office, however, was quick to launch a court challenge to the new policy in regard to sexual orientation and the like. It secured an injunction late last week putting the policy on hold until a May 30 hearing in state Superior Court.
In what is clearly not a surprise, Republican candidates are jumping on this issue on the side of the school board.
State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, whose 26th District will include Hanover under redistricting, issued a statement in support of the district in conjunction with state Sen. Ed Durr, whose south Jersey district is about 100 miles away.
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.”
We also heard from Tom Mastrangelo, who is challenging Pennacchio in what is a very nasty GOP primary.
He spoke of the state bullying parents and attacking “local values.”
It’s unclear how the courts will rule on this case, but the decision – politically speaking – may be irrelevant.
So much of the conservative mantra these days is fighting back against progressive or “woke” culture, especially when it comes to education.
That’s why we have a continuing campaign to remove books from schools and/or school libraries. State education standards, which critics say are too heavy on sexuality and gender, are also being attacked.
Condemning a policy that to some, undermines parental rights, fits right in with the larger issue of the day. Waving the flag of Puritanism makes the point even if you lose the battle in court. This is particularly useful in a Republican primary campaign where voters tend to be quite conservative.
This unfolding saga has prompted a twitter war of sorts between Assemblyman Jay Webber, who also is in LD-26, and the governor. How 2023.
Here’s one from Webber:
“No (Gov. Murphy) keeping secrets about kids from their parents is the stuff of authoritarians & shouldn’t be tolerated. Not your call on what parents get to know about their kids.”
The governor’s retort:
“Sorry (Jay Webber) 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.”
As always, one must try to put philosophy and political posturing aside for the practical.
As to the adopted policy in Hanover, how prudent is it to expect school staff to figure out if a student is gay? Probably not what they signed up for.
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