Holmdel Board Stares into the Face of the Wokeness Monster

HOLMDEL – Walk around the local high school lobby and you see signs of support for inclusion and a bulletin board promoting a student Gay Straight Alliance Club.

This is, board of education members said during Wednesday night’s meeting, a very welcoming environment. All students are special and wonderful is how one board member put it.

Point taken.

But how will such a rosy view of high school life in this Monmouth County town survive the “culture wars?”

Wednesday’s meeting saw the board in a 5-3 vote with one abstention rescind a state recommended policy governing how transgender students are treated. The controversial part of the policy reads that a district “shall accept a student’s asserted gender identity; parental consent is not required.”

School boards across the state adopted this policy a few years ago, some believing it was mandatory. But it surfaced during a court hearing earlier this year that it is not.

That propelled the policy and its transgender protections into the middle of the current battle over gay rights, school curriculum and by extension, the upcoming legislative elections. Republicans, in fact, are making “parents’ rights” a centerpiece of their campaign.

Only a small number of school boards have actually repealed the policy, but many are debating it.  A lot of this is a sideshow. Whether the policy exists or not, state law bans discrimination against gay and transgender students.

Still, as we saw in Holmdel, the policy has become a litmus test of sorts for board members’ sentiments on gay rights.

There was much heated rhetoric from both the public and the board with one member talking about “genital mutilation,” which some see as a particularly offensive remark.

Such over-the-top comments aside, supporters of retaining the policy included Michael Gottesman, founder of the New Jersey Public Education Coalition, a group formed to oppose conservative takeovers of school boards.

He defended the policy as a “child-centered approach” that is consistent with state law.

Others said the policy gives comfort to gay and transgender students who one person said, “are under attack,” They said gay and trans students are more likely to commit, or try to commit, suicide than straight students. The policy works, so why change it? That point was made too.’

Those opposing the policy said it “alienates parents.”

Others were more dramatic, citing “sinister people grooming children” and “wokeness.”

One man claimed that it’s the state’s goal under Phil Murphy to destroy traditional families.

It was hard to find any sort of common ground amid all this, but one of the board members who voted no urged that the discussion simply be tabled so the board could devise a similar – but better – policy.

That didn’t happen and the aforementioned vote occurred.

Still, the board majority on this issue pledged to craft a new policy with one member predicting – a bit boldly perhaps – that it may satisfy the critics.

Before leaving this episode, there was some irony here.

The debate on the transgender policy was preceded by a lengthy presentation on bullying in the district.

That is precisely what advocates for gay students say they worry about.

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10 responses to “Holmdel Board Stares into the Face of the Wokeness Monster”

  1. CuzinVinny, those children enjoy the same rights as anyone else, including the RIGHT TO PRIVACY. You’re repeating the same old regurgitated Republican bullshit. No one, much less Murphy, is taking children from their parents. What you and your fellow bigots don’t understand is that school boards have NO RIGHT to dictate to teachers and administrators how to handle sensitive issues. If you don’t believe me, read the New Jersey School Board Code of Ethics.

  2. Mr. Schanackenberg if you and Murphy claim
    to know what’s better for our kids, you pay the
    cost of raising them for 18 years from your own
    pockets.

  3. The parents should get a better relationship with their child and not expect the school to do their parenting for them. Children who are forced to be exposed may kill themselves and then how will you feel about your position? The humane position is clear to the vast majority of people.

  4. CuzinVinny I suspect that parents who have a healthy and loving relationship with their children are not affected by this policy because they already know whether their child is trans or questioning. This policy applies to those students who have parents who would be unsupportive or even hostile toward their student’s choice. It protects those students and provides at least one safe space for them in their life.

  5. Michael Schnackenberg this is a PATENTLY FALSE Statement:

    “CuzinVinny, those children enjoy the same rights as anyone else, including the RIGHT TO PRIVACY.”

    The courts have widely ruled in case after case that minor children do not have a constitutional right to privacy from their parents. In fact, the courts have ruled that parents have an obligation to be aware of everything their minor children do.

    This is REALITY…

  6. Just a reminder:

    Parents are given very wide latitude to monitor their children’s phone use, internet use, the friends they associate with, the possessions they keep in their rooms, where they go when driving the car, how late they stay out, and more.

    Neither our state nor federal constitution extends full access to the enumerated God-given rights to minor children. Rather, they access the vast majority of rights through and by their parents and guardians. It is not until they reach age 18 or have petitioned a court for (and been granted) emancipation that they are fully responsible for their own actions and the courts recognized their autonomy of constitutional rights and obligations.

    THIS is also why Parents and Guardians can be held legally accountable for the Illegal actions of their Children.

  7. James: try again. Children don’t have a right to privacy from their parents IN THE HOME. However, you cannot legislate a forced violation of privacy rights OUTSIDE THE HOME. That includes school. In other words, you’re wrong.

  8. According to Mr. Schanackenberg’s logic if minors have the same rights as adults teens should be able to vote. God forbid. AOC would be president.

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