Non-Transgender Rights

Mar 13, 2019

To the Editor:

After reading the article by Rick Mellerup in the March Tuckerton/LEH Leader, I am very concerned about the ramifications of New Jersey legislation passed in 2017 regarding transgender students. This is now affecting all school board policy across this state. I’m not sure this was well thought out, or even had parental input before becoming law.

According to Mr. Mellerup’s article, transgender students will be driving the decisions regarding bathroom use, interscholastic sports, and even their own name changes on school records.

The NJSIAA has been “cut out of the picture,” Mellerup writes – and he is correct. The law explicitly states that even though a student is a biological boy but “identifies” himself as a girl, he will be permitted to participate in all girl sports, and go into the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms, too. This is written in the law and in the new “Transgender Student Guidance for School Districts,” which was just released in January by the state Department of Education.

After reading the legislation and the guidelines, I don’t find any protections or provisions for the “straight” students who may be uncomfortable with all these very drastic and swift environmental changes. I think parents need to make their voices heard now, before their respective boards make or “update” these policies.

Parents’ legal right to direct their children’s education is being usurped by our state government with statements like the following: “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.” The guidelines further state that a parent or guardian may object to the minor student’s name change request, and that school districts should consult their “board attorney regarding the minor student’s civil rights and protections under the NJLAD.”

Who wrote these statements? Are parents not the legal guardians of their children for whom they are given the right to direct their healthcare and other decisions?

School boards do not have the right to keep information from parents, or create legal documents, that are not deemed legal by the state Department of Vital Statistics. As a healthcare provider for minor children, it is my obligation to get express parent permission for any healthcare decisions, medications, etc. for their children. But, now, we don’t need their permission to change their child’s name or gender in school!? Frankly, I am outraged that this was not brought up for public comment before Pinelands “updated” its policy concerning such important issues.

Finally, I want to thank Mr. Mellerup for a very informative article and bringing this issue to the forefront for parents. We need to see some additional language in this mandate that supports a parent’s legal right to be consulted in any and all personal decisions regarding their own children, and language that will support the rights of non-transgender students as well transgender students.

Laura B. Erber

Little Egg Harbor



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