New Jersey Education Board Removes ‘Female And Male’ From Equity Policy Despite Parents’ Protests

"Locals want parental rights."
CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 14: A pupil raises their hand during a lesson at Whitchurch High School on September 14, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. All children aged 12 to 15 across the UK will be offered a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Parental consent will be sought for the schools-based vaccination programme. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

The New Jersey Education Board last week adopted an equity policy that replaces “female and male” with the gender-neutral “all” when referring to students.

The board approved the equity policy in a narrow 6-5 vote on Wednesday, New Jersey Spotlight News reported.

The new policy replaces the phrase “minority, female and male” with “all” students.

Parental rights advocates packed into Wednesday’s board meeting to protest the changes and urged the board to vote against the equity policy, the outlet reported. One group that showed up, Protect Your Children, says that it has 5,000 members across New Jersey.

After the policy was adopted, some parental rights advocates reportedly threatened lawsuits.

At one point during the meeting, board member Mary Beth Berry said “locals want parental rights,” prompting cheers from the audience.

More than 850 people submitted a public comment on the equity policy, some expressing support while others expressed their disapproval.

One commenter quoted C.S. Lewis, writing, “a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive,” and called the changes to the equity policy “anti-biology.”

“Gender identity and gender are more complicated than the commenters suggest,” the department responded to one commenter.

Another commenter argued that the changes goes beyond the scope of the state board’s authority and warned that they will trigger legal challenges.

Yet another commenter warned that the deletion of “gender” will have a “devastating” effect on the education of New Jersey’s children and will remove girls as a protected class, urging the Education Department not to take a “rash and radical stance.”

Equity is defined in the policy as “students have the opportunity to master the goals of the curriculum in an educational environment that is fair, just, and impartial to all individuals,” adding that equity also “focuses on consistent and systematic access for all students to curriculum, resources, instruction, and environments that sustain opportunities for excellent outcomes.”

Democrat Governor Phil Murphy’s office said in a statement that the equity code has been protecting students based on sexual orientation and gender identity since 2003, according to the outlet.

Republican lawmakers in New Jersey disagreed, saying the state should not “drive a wedge” between parents, teachers, and students.

“All kids deserve the opportunity to succeed in-and-out of the classroom but the best way to ensure this success is by bringing their parents, teachers, and local school administrators together, not by driving a wedge between them,” said Republican state Senator Anthony Bucco, the minority leader.

The state education board approves an equity policy every seven years. The old equity policy would have expired on August 29, according to the governor’s office.

Gender transitions at school have become a hot button issue for many parents around the country, including in New Jersey recently.

In June, New Jersey’s attorney general filed civil rights complaints against three school districts over their parental notification policies around gender. The policies require schools to inform parents if their children express a desire to change their names or pronouns or request to use the bathroom of the opposite sex.

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