Culture Wars Flare on School Boards over Trans Issues, Book Bans

Tuesday’s Board of Ed meeting in Roxbury was another opportunity for foaming-at-the-mouth right-wingers to ban books and throw LGBT kids under the bus. 

If you’re curious about what the Republican Party stands for, in NJ and nationally, consider this: we’re entering the third month of a collective GOP meltdown because a beer company put a transgender person in a commercial.

Everything that displeases conservatives is “woke” and everyone they don’t like is a “groomer” and, oh by the way, Phil Murphy is a “pedo” because he doesn’t hate LGBT people.

Incessant right-wing whining about “cancel cancel” while simultaneously striving to cancel anything they don’t like is proof that most GOP accusations are actually confessions. Another school shooting is never a big deal in right wing circles but a drag queen reading Dr Suess to kids? Well, that’s when the pitchforks really come out.

And that’s pretty much the GOP platform in 2023, alongside controlling the outcome of every pregnancy in America.

And thanks to GOP priorities, classroom censorship of books is on the rise nationally. New Jersey is no exception as school districts around the state actively work to eliminate any evidence of the existence of gay (and especially transgender) people from the curriculum and from the library.

“There have been attempts to overturn LGBTQ protections and to ban books in at least one district in every county in NJ,” Louise Walpin told InsiderNJ.

Half of the first gay wedding in NJ history, Ms. Walpin is involved with SWEEP NJ, an organization founded to combat right-wing extremism on School boards by supplying factual testimony to counter conservative fear-mongering.

The epicenter of New Jersey’s culture wars might be Morris County, home of an especially caustic and un-constructive GOP primary where rival candidates neglect (!) issues like property taxes in their heated rush to dehumanize gay people. Their pitch to GOP primary voters: We hate LGBTs more than you do!!

The book ban issue was top-of-mind at tonight’s raucous Board of Education meeting in Roxbury, NJ because, well, how could it not be?

Roxana Caivano, a librarian at Roxbury High School is under fire (to say the least) from hysterical parents because she steadfastly refused to ban books they don’t like. Ms. Caivano has sued her critics for defamation. She stood up to would-be book banners at Tuesday’s meetings which went from 7:30 until midnight with lots of Bible-waving in the meantime.

Leslie Bockol, Coalitions Organizer for New Jersey Working Families Party, attended Tuesday’s BoE meeting to clap back at the book-ban trend.

“It’s ironic that the same people who purport to believe in freedom are pushing censorship with a book ban,” Ms. Bockol told InsiderNJ. “We don’t need to protect LGBTQ+ students from learning about themselves, or their peers from learning to see them with understanding. What we need to protect students from is a hostile, and even violent world filled with opportunistic right-wing politicians who are eager to score political points by demonizing LGBTQ+ kids.”

Trenton Councilwoman Jennifer Williams is the first transgender municipal lawmaker in New Jersey history. She’s especially alarmed about a chilling decision of the Board of Ed in nearby Hanover to force teachers to “out” LGBT students to their parents.

“Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ kids who were thrown out of their homes and/or rejected by their families,” Ms. Williams told InsiderNJ. “Requiring schools to ‘out’ kids will only make that problem worse and could cost lives.”

Spoiler alert: it will cost lives.

“Coming out is a personal decision for every LGBTQ person, just as accepting and affirming them is the decision of every non-LGBTQ person they encounter in life – especially those non-LGBTQ in power over the mechanisms of government and our schools,” Ms. Williams added.

Ms. Williams is also alarmed by the conservative trend to ban books, behavior she characterized as “antithetical to being an American, let alone believing in free speech and what the Founding Fathers wrote in the First Amendment.”

That’s not coming from a woke liberal, Ms. Williams is a lifelong republican who chairs Trenton’s GOP municipal committee.

Shannon Cuttle founded the NJ Safe Schools Coalition in 2016 to support LGBT students and to clap back when right-wingers target queer kids.

“We are not immune to what is happening across the country even here in New Jersey,” Cuttle noted. “All students have the right to feel safe and welcomed at school regardless of their background, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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31 responses to “Culture Wars Flare on School Boards over Trans Issues, Book Bans”

  1. This is a community issue that is being framed as partisan politics. InsiderNJ should provide the book excerpts and let the public understand the community issues. By not doing, InsiderNJ does a disservice to its readership. After all these articles, InsiderNJ should not hide the books and graphics. If InsiderNJ is interested in healthy and successful communities, and not merely viewer eyeballs generated by dangling partisan red meat, air this issue objectively. Let the readership see if a child’s library experience has been turned into that of visiting an adult bookstore. List the books in question and provide some of the salacious page graphics.

  2. First they create the mess.
    Then they blame others for the ness they created.
    Then they do everything possible to prevent others from fixing the mess that they created.
    Then they propose the same policies to fix the mess that they created in the first place.

  3. This issue is not Republican versus Democrat. It relates to pornographic images in books about sexual activities. Your statements in this article are merely your opinion and are not supported by any facts. You are so eager to attack individuals in your article, but you only interviewed leftists who support your viewpoint and whose values may not reflect those of the family. Everyone desires to safeguard individuals to the degree expected by others. I’m not overly concerned about hurting someone’s emotions, but we all have the right to our own personal beliefs and opinions. As a human, it is essential to respect others and regard them with the same degree of deference that you believe you deserve. The books containing explicit images should be relocated to a more suitable location within the school, and prenatal permission should be required to check them out. This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual literature with inappropriate sexual content. The majority of individuals are not concerned with the printed words, but rather with the graphic nature of the books.

  4. Couldn’t have said it better myself. The bias from InsiderNJ.com can be smelled from across the state.

  5. Where does the left come up with these statistics? Does anyone ever fact check them?
    “Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ kids who were thrown out of their homes and/or rejected by their families,” Ms. Williams told InsiderNJ. “Requiring schools to ‘out’ kids will only make that problem worse and could cost lives.”

  6. Where do you get *your* statistics from?

    LGBT kids are at greater risk of suicide and you’re out there feeling put upon about it. Does the idea of a youngster committing suicide not bother you at all?

    Because you seemed really annoyed about it.

  7. The Bible is graphic. Game of Thrones is graphic. Even the Harry Potter movies were graphic. But there’s a gay person involved and suddenly it’s a problem?

  8. We are talking about schools. Schools are supposed to teach reading, writing, math, science, computer science, English, civics and the like.

    Of course author Lassiter labels anyone with concerns or opposing opinion as radical right winger. Not surprising. It a shame insiderNJ has become an opinion publication only. Impartial reporting as promoted if a fallacy.

    It seems schools have evolved into a sex crazed bureaucracy. The sex-education guidelines include discussing the range of ways people express their gender and how gender role stereotypes may limit behavior.

    A sample lesson includes teaching students that it’s normal if “you might feel like you’re a boy even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘girl’ parts.”

    Another lesson plan directs teachers to talk to their first graders about the topic of gender identity, and help them identify “gender, gender identity and gender role stereotypes.”

    Further, teachers will have to teach young students at least two things they’ve been taught about gender role stereotypes and how those things may limit people of all genders.

    Gender identity is that feeling of knowing your gender. You might feel like you are a boy, you might feel like you are a girl… you might feel like you’re a boy even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘girl’ parts. You might feel like you’re a girl even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘boy’ parts,” the lesson plan states.

    Progressive New Jersey school districts are teaching kids as young as six years old that it is normal to feel like you were born the “wrong” gender.

    The school’s lesson plans continues to state that being a boy doesn’t necessarily mean that you have boy body parts, and vice versa.

    Tere are some body parts that mostly just girls have and some parts that mostly just boys have… and you might not feel like you’re a boy or a girl, but you’re a little bit of both. No matter how you feel, you’re perfectly normal the plan says.

    The graphic material the woke, radical Left leaders are pushing on to children is shocking. They are attempting to sexualize kids at such a young age, at a time where sex and gender means nothing to them.

    The indoctrination must stop.

  9. Let’s keep in mind who are the real child predators
    “ A New Jersey police officer has been charged with trying to lure a 15-year-old girl to meet for sex in online chats he had with an undercover detective posing as the teen, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday.

    Ridgewood police officer Peter Tuchol Jr., 28, was arrested Monday at his home in Waldwick and charged with luring, attempted sexual assault, attempted endangering the welfare of a child, and three drug charges related to the possession of anabolic steroids, Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo said in a statement.

    Beginning on Thursday, members of the Cyber Crimes Unit and Task Force had online conversations with Tuchol, who believed he was talking to a 15-year-old, Calo said.”

  10. I assume all these kids have phones.

    And you think their first choice would be to “check out” a book if they wanted view pornography? (And I’m not saying the books are pornagraphic)

    But if you think the children haven’t seen what’s depicted/described in the books in real time video on their phones, I’ve got news for you.

    Besides, why isn’t instructing your child “not to check out that book” good enough?

  11. It’s amazing the picture this article tries to paint as it insults conservatives and “right-wingers”. I just don’t want my children exposed to sexually explicit content. Why is that a problem?

  12. Thanks for this, Jay. The homophobia and transphobia…actually, to call it by its true name…the hatred is real. Banning books that THEY DON’T READ OR HAVE TO READ is just part of the right-wing’s overall agenda. This creeping “DeSantisism” (although it precedes him, of course) needs to be called out every time…we’ll be hosting George M. Johnson, author of “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” the second most banned book of last year, in Plainfield during Pride month. La lucrative continua!
    Best,
    Rebecca

  13. What an absolute piece of trash this article is. I was there last night. Why don’t you mention that there are currently over 170 books representing the LGBTQ community in the Roxbury HS library , and we are asking for 11 of these books to be removed because they contain explicit sexual content and graphic images. They are pornography being distributed to minor children in a school. The librarian attempted to defend her actions by saying these kids have phones so they can find this content on their own. Perhaps, but I have parental controls on my child’s devices and full access to them. I decide as their parent, not anyone else. The school has a policy for appropriate use of technology that students and parents are required to sign. Does that allow them to use school issued devices to access porn? No, no it doesn’t. So why should the taxpayers be funding the school giving children access to porn? These are concerned parents asking for reasonable actions. Opinion column or not, this is nothing but lies and I’m embarrassed for you. Perhaps people would be more understanding and tolerant of your positions if you stopped gaslighting the discussion and belittling their concerns as right wing extremism, when we are actually just moms and dads who don’t want biologically untrue and harmful agendas or graphic pornography pushed on our children by schools and government who think they have some right to our kids. School is for academics and I’ll handle the rest since it is my job as a parent. At this rate I hope the entire public school system collapses, because there’s very little worth saving. Where’s the graphic images for the public to see and form their own opinion based on reality, not your ridiculous narrative? Afraid your argument won’t stand up to the scrutiny Jay? Are they too graphic to publish here? Pathetic.

  14. A sample lesson includes teaching students that it’s normal if “you might feel like you’re a boy even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘girl’ parts.”

    BECAUSE IT IS NORMAL!!! Thanks Jay and all the advocates who showed up to support our LGBTQ youth.

  15. Here we go again. Liberals resorting to name calling. Opposing opinion is labeled homophobic or transphobic.

    We are all supposed to shut up and support this perverted behavior without question and schools must teach and encourage this. I think not.

  16. We are under attack by evangelical’s and right wing MAGA believers. They are the minority in our state and country. Unfortunately, due to apathy by the majority they are taking over our school boards in Morris and other counties.
    It (they) want to dictate what is taught and read in schools, let them go to private religious schools. This is only the beginning of how 21 states in this country are now controlled by right wing fanatics. Stand up and fight.

  17. The facts remain. The Left that supports the LGBTQ and Trans Agendas are the real FASCISTS! They project, gas light and accuse Republicans and Conservatives of the exact things that the Leftists-Communists are doing? This is the Communist propaganda way.

    As for the book banning. What’s wrong with it? Concerned parents want pornographic books on homosexuality and Trans acts and programs to be banned, so children are not exposed to them.

    According to every medical school and psychological department of medical schools, medical peer reviewed studies and reports, the frontal lobe of the human brain–the decision-making and reasoning part–is NOT FULLY DEVELOPED until 25 years of age. Children up to 18, and even up to 25 are susceptible to outside sexual influences, and should not be exposed to them until adulthood where they can then make their own informed choices.

    Pushing homosexual and trans books, videos, school programs, drag queen shows, etc. on to children 18 and under in our schools is CRIMINAL SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE!!!!! Every teacher and school board member that supports promoting the LBGTQ and Trans agendas and narratives to our children, need to be arrested, charged, and convicted of child sex abuse, emotional and psychological child abuse, and physical child abuse.

    They should then be put into the NJ Child Sex Abuse database so they can never be involved in teaching or in the administration of teaching children again.

    Teachers & administrators that push these agendas are nothing more than child sexual groomers and pedophiles.

  18. Journalism is dead! This article proves it!
    Anyone can write an opinion piece , a one sided pathetic attempt to undermine the other side.
    A true journalist would have looked at both sides and created an article truly explaining both sides.
    The person who wrote this is nothing but a hack , incapable of writing a true non biased article based on the facts . Facts like giving porn to anyone under the of 16 is against the law. Facts like anyone giving any of the law books in question to a minor on the street would be arrested as a pedofile!

  19. All the crazy conservative wackos stop using the word WOKE! You don’t even use it in the right context! Stop worrying about books NOW they’ve always been there you morons but NOW you wanna cry 😭 awe is ur little billy or sally going to turn into a horse if he or she reads a horse book? If the teacher talks to them about the kkk or Ted Bundy is he or she going to become a serial killer? Cut the crap! It’s about homophobia and next will be your crying to take out black history this is not DESANTIS land move to Florida!

  20. I’m not going to be subtle about this:
    Nicole Stouffer is a demented piece of shit.

    She has ridiculed a lot of people in the past with her insults, innuendo, lies and fraudulent activities. But to refer to a state Senator as a “groomer-in-chief” is not only disgusting, but in view, would earn her a trip to Fat Lip City if she had a Y chromosome.

    It’s been her common practice for her and her sick disciples to ridicule those who disagree with her Nazi brand of governing. But today, she has crossed the line.

    State Senator Andrew Zwicker is a co-sponsor of legislation that would withhold funding from school or public libraries that elect to ban books, in violation of the First Amendment prohibitions on censorship. She also refers to him as “the guy that proposed making NJ a sanctuary state for juvenile sex changes”, which is a complete and total lie. What Zwicker actually sponsored was legislation that would prohibit New Jersey officials from cooperating with other states’ anti-transgender laws–preventing extradition, cooperation with subpoenas, and the sharing of medical records–and also gives state courts increased powers over child custody when gender-affirming care is involved. To call that “grooming” shows what an ignorant douchebag she is.

    I discussed the pending bill in a column published on Wednesday (https://open.substack.com/pub/michaelschnackenberg/p/now-heres-one-for-the-books?utm_source=share&utm_medium=android)

    Stouffer–using her usual pseudonym “Mathgoddess”, along with her unidentified “guest writer”, prove that they are cowardly, gutless assholes by refusing to attach their names to their defamatory screed. She uses her perceived anonymity to lob pipe bombs full of hate and libel at her opponents, secure in the knowledge that as a “journalist”–a label that, given her past record of fraud, I would dispute, as well as her credibility–legal retaliation would be fruitless.

    But let’s review Stouffer’s lies so you can see what a bigoted moron she truly is:
    • “is porn for children now deemed ‘partisan’ and permissible? Will every school be able to carry a subscription to Hustler magazine?” Is Stouffer truly stupid? Do school libraries carry Hustler? I am not aware of ANY school libraries that carry Hustler, or, for that matter, Penthouse (Playboy is now exclusively online). Public libraries do at their discretion, but are not made available to children.
    • “The bill goes on to threaten that ALL or part of state aid can be withheld from any party that does not comply”. Well, what’s the point of having a law if there are no penalties for breaking it?
    • “Don’t be gaslit by LGBTQ groups saying LGBTQ books are being targeted because of homophobia or some other bigoted viewpoint. The only books being challenged are those that contain OBSCENE content”. Who is she kidding? All of the books targeted by Moms for Liberty, New Jersey Project and the Medford Moron are books that have race-based or LGBTQ themes. Those seeking to ban those books clearly ARE bigoted.

    And on that subject, maybe Mathgodless would like to justify the decision made today by a K-8 school in Florida that banned the poem “The Hill We Climb”. You may recall that as the poem read by Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at President Biden’s inauguration in 2021. The school, egged on by Governor Ron “Adolf” DeSantis, declared it contained “hate speech”. Of course, the real reason is that Gorman is Black, and both DeSantis and Stouffer are racial bigots.

    Finally, she viciously attacked Roxbury school librarian Roxana Russo Caviano, who is suing several agitators in the community for defamation resulting from their obscene comments about her not bowing to their perverse wishes about how they think she should do her job. These parents are supported by another dirtbag, State Senator Crazy Joe Pennacchio. Unfortunately for him, he’s backing the wrong side in this fight. Caviano has a strong case and will likely prevail. Will Pennacchio help pay the damage award? Will Stouffer?

    And the Medford Moron promises to address this further. Well, the Informer will be responding in kind, so everyone can see that this rank amateur with no educational background is nothing more that a bully. And the way to defeat a bully is to stand up to them.

  21. If you want to parent, parent— monitor what your kids read- submit requests to you child’s school that your kid not be allowed to read certain books— THAT is patenting your kid— but what you do not get to do is PARENT other children and make decisions for entire communities, that are frankly discriminatory and harmful to kids that may not be like your own (although I suspect many of the bigots would be surprised at who their children are, because they do not feel comfortable to tell them)— most of these so-called grasssroots, parental rights activists have had very little involvement in their kids education until now—and they don’t even recognize that they are being used by the Right to propel a political agenda at the expense of LGBTQ+ kids, families and other children that just want to be free to read what they want and live their lives free from the bigoted agenda. Keep your religious bigotry to yourself and if you want your kid to be indoctrinated with your religious beliefs put them in a private school— public school is not for you or your kid. I do not want my taxes being used to ban books, to discriminate against LGBTQ or BIPOC youth or to promote ANY religion in public school.

  22. This article missed the whole agenda
    By a mile it’s all about Jesus vs Satan and unfortunately the left has been taken over by the evil
    Whoever wrote this article is a messenger for Satan !!!

  23. Jay Lassiter, excellent, informative column.

    I quote, ‘You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.’
    At times it has been difficult, but you always stepped forward into growth, understanding, and empathy.
    I, Kathleen Demarest , commend you for this.
    I, also, thank you.

  24. One question: Why did NYC ban pornographic books and sex shops on 42nd Street and clean up the area??? Because it supported the criminal element. The criminal element has found its way into our school boards and teaching positions. Time to weed them out and have them put in the Child Sex Abuse Database.

  25. I would ask Michael Schnackenberg what a Christian Nationalist wackadoodle is? Is there a definition of this in the dictionary? Or, is Wackenberg projecting his Communist predilections and trying to gas light the public that it’s O.K. to groom children and use them as subjects of pedophilia? I’m beginning to wonder about Wackenbergdoodle’s mental status, given he likes promoting pornography and pedophilia to children.

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