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NJ Democratic Lawmakers To Education Chief: Protect Transgender Students

Acting NJ Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington
Acting NJ Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington Photo Credit: COURTESY: State of New Jersey

HACKENSACK, N.J. – New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and other Democratic state lawmakers from Bergen and Passaic county on Wednesday called on the acting state education commissioner to immediately issue a directive protecting transgender students.

Last week, the Trump Administration rescinded a directive that the Obama Administration put in place that “made clear that the federal government supported transgender students and wanted to do everything it could to ensure their success in school,” the state Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter to Acting Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington.

“It was backed up by the protections afforded by Title IX, which protect transgender and cisgender children alike,” they wrote.

“The federal government has claimed that this is a states’ rights issue,” says the letter – co-signed by, among others, Assembly members Tim Eustace of Maywood, Valerie Vainieri Huttle of Englewood, Marlene Caride of Ridgefield and state Sen. Robert Gordon of Fair Lawn.

“Although we disagree, and believe strongly that this is a civil rights issue well within the purview of the federal government,” they wrote to Harrington, “we ask that you issue a state directive immediately.

“We believe that all students, and all people, should enjoy the same rights and protections, regardless of gender identity or status, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, creed, or class.

“Without these protections, transgender students will undoubtedly face physical and emotional harm within schools,” the letter says. “They will not feel safe accessing the programs they need. They will not feel safe participating in the extracurricular activities that they desire.

“They will not have the opportunity to have the same fulfilling experience that their cisgender counterparts enjoy.”

In the end, the lawmakers asked Harrington to “develop and enforce a state directive to replace the federal directive for transgender students which mirrors that of the Obama Administration.

“Please stand up for the students of New Jersey and become a leader of states by immediately putting in place the protections these students deserve.”

Please stand up for the students of New Jersey and become a leader of states by immediately putting in place the protections these students deserve.

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