New Jersey sues school districts to stop them from telling parents about their kids’ gender transitions; governor says it’s the ‘American way’

The New Jersey attorney general has filed lawsuits against three school districts in the state over their policies to inform parents of their children’s gender transitions.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil…

The New Jersey attorney general has filed lawsuits against three school districts in the state over their policies to inform parents of their children’s gender transitions.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy implies keeping parents in the dark is the “American way.”

The lawsuits were filed in June against the Manalapan-Englishtown, Marlboro and Middletown school districts and their boards by AG Matt Platkin. He alleges informing parents of gender transitions puts transgender students at risk of “physical harm” and “serious mental health” issues in violation of a state law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity, Politico reports.

Murphy defended the lawsuits in an appearance on CBS News in July.

“Listen, we took these actions because it’s the right thing to do,” Murphy said. “Let’s protect the rights of these precious kids. Let’s do things the right way, the American way.”

The lawsuits come on the heels of a similar complaint filed by Murphy’s administration in May against the Hanover Board of Education in Morris County.

In a statement about the complaints, the director of the AG’s Division on Civil Rights, Sundeep Iyer, vowed to protect the rights of LGBTQ students in the state. 

“School policies that single out or target LGBTQ+ youth fly in the face of our state’s longstanding commitment to equality,” he said. “Our laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, plain and simple, and we will not waver in our commitment to enforcing those protections.” 

The state’s guidance says schools should allow students to dress “in accordance with their gender identity” and address students by their “preferred pronouns.” The guidance makes it clear that “parental consent is not required.” 

Marc Zitomer, attorney for Marlboro’s school board, says the district’s parental notification policy protects parents’ constitutional rights in the upbringing of their children: 

“We vehemently disagree with Attorney General’s argument that it is somehow discriminatory or improper to notify a parent that their minor child is changing their gender identity or expression,” he wrote in an email. “It is our position that keeping parents in the dark about important issues involving their children is counterintuitive and contrary to well established U.S. Supreme Court case law that says that parents have a constitutional right to direct and control the upbringing of their children.” 

This week, the Goldwater Institute public policy think tank filed a brief in the case on behalf of Angela Tycenski, a Morganville mom with two children ages 9 and 11 attending schools in the Marlboro district. The brief defends the Marlboro district’s parental notification policy, arguing state interference in it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. 

“In fact, public schools are constitutionally required to keep parents informed about what’s happening to their kids in school, meaning any government guidance to the contrary is a violation of the U.S. Constitution,” the institute maintained in a press release

“Both the U.S. and New Jersey Supreme Courts have consistently upheld parents’ fundamental right to control and direct the education, upbringing, and healthcare decisions of their children,” adds Goldwater‘s Adam Shelton, lead attorney on the case. “But in order to meaningfully exercise that right, parents must be told when the government, including public school officials, make(s) decisions that directly affect their children’s mental health or physical well-being.” 

As reported by The Lion in April, Goldwater also filed a federal lawsuit in Maine on behalf of Amber Lavigne, alleging a school hid her daughter’s “transition” into a boy. Lavigne only learned about the fateful decision when she found a chest binder in her daughter’s room. 

Ultimately, Goldwater says it joined this fight to defend parents such as Tycenski, Lavigne and countless others across the country from “activist educators who think they know best [and] are putting themselves between parents and children and attempting to replace parents as the primary raisers of their children. 

“Public schools should never hide things from parents — whether it’s curriculum content or matters of health. That’s why Goldwater Institute is standing up for parents like [Tycenski] and empowering moms and dads nationwide to make informed decisions about what’s best for their children.”