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A New Jersey state judge last week blocked three school districts from enforcing a policy requiring schools to notify parents if their child changes their gender identity.
On Friday, Judge David Bauman issued a preliminary injunction against the new gender transition policy recently adopted by the Manalapan-Englishtown, Marlboro, and Middletown school districts.
“The state has demonstrated a reasonable probability of success on its claim that the Amended Policies, if implemented, will have a disparate impact on transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary youth,” the judge wrote.
All three New Jersey school districts approved the new gender transition policy on June 20.
The policy requires schools to tell parents if their children request to change their gender identity, including their pronouns or name, or if they request to use the bathrooms or play on the sports teams of the opposite sex. All three policies make an exception for situations where there is reason to believe notifying parents could put the student in harm’s way.
The three New Jersey school districts have been at the center of a push by local parents for more transparency from schools about their children.
“I do not, will not ever co-parent with the government,” one mom of 3 from Middletown, who spoke at a heated June 20 school board meeting on the policy, told the New York Post.
The judge’s decision Friday sides with New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, who sued the three districts over the policy in June, accusing them of violating a state discrimination law and putting trans-identifying students at risk.
“‘Outing’ these students against their will poses serious mental health risks; threatens physical harm to students, including risking increased suicides; decreases the likelihood students will seek support; and shirks the District’s obligation to create a safe and supportive learning environment for all,” the Marlboro lawsuit stated.
Critics have cautioned against exaggerating any perceived link between suicide and not affirming trans-identifying children, especially since children with gender dysphoria often present with co-morbidities like depression and anxiety.
The Marlboro school board’s attorney Marc Zitomer slammed the ruling, saying parents would be left in the dark as the case makes its way through the court system.
“In the meantime, the school district is now severely constrained in its ability to notify parents about important issues involving their minor children, which is concerning on many levels,” Zitomer said.
He added that the Marlboro district is exploring its appeal options.
New Jersey’s state guidance directs school districts to wholeheartedly affirm students’ new gender identities, saying, “a school district shall accept a student’s asserted gender identity; parental consent is not required.”
New Jersey’s guidance also states that school districts “shall ensure” that a trans-identifying student is addressed by their preferred name and pronouns at school, and students are “entitled” to use the bathroom and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
Furthermore, schools must “provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities, even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections or concerns,” according to the state guidance.
The three school districts serve a total of about 18,000 students.