Judge Punts on School Board Policy Re. Gay Students

HANOVER TWP. –  A new school board policy that directs staff to report gay students to their parents remains on hold, but its ultimate future seems uncertain after a court hearing Tuesday.

Judge Stuart Minkowitz was clearly dubious about requiring staff to treat gay students differently.

“You’re identifying a protected class … for special treatment,” the judge said to Matthew Giacobbe, the attorney for the school board.

In that same vein, the judge hypothetically asked about a policy that would have staff pinpoint students by race, religion or national origin for unequal treatment.

Would that be ok, he asked rhetorically. The answer was so obvious it didn’t need to be said.

The judge’s overall point was that discriminatory practices are unlawful.

Giacobbe said this case is about parental rights – rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In court and in a conversation afterwards, he said Hanover’s K-8 district discriminates against no students.

This issue exploded two weeks ago – yet another battle in the so-called culture wars – when the board adopted a new policy directing staff to notify parents if they became aware of a number of student conditions. Attention was immediately drawn to a section that required notification of students’ “sexual orientation, transitioning, gender identity or expression.”
The state Attorney General quickly went to court to get the policy overturned and secured a preliminary injunction to put it on hold. Tuesday’s hearing was held to determine if a permanent injunction would be issued until the state Division of Civil Rights rules on the merits of the issue. Instead, Minkowitz delayed making that decision in hopes lawyers for both sides could work out a compromise.

Minkowitz limited the proceedings to the strict legal issue involved, but outside factors were impossible to ignore.

Morris County’s Courtroom Number One, which is almost 200-years-old, was jammed with spectators, most of whom supported the school board.

Outside the courtroom’s historic walls and artifacts, one finds some active Republican primaries in full swing. Many state legislative candidates in local districts have released statements backing the school board and parents’ rights.

Back in court, the Attorney General’s Office argued that the new policy was discriminatory and that it posed a risk to students who may be “outed.”

The judge, who questioned Giacobbe extensively, also seemed to be uncertain how the policy would work. He said it seemed like staff would have no discretion and he raised the possibility of teachers and others making a mistake in identifying a student’s sexuality. He also observed that the school board’s court filings failed to address any harm students could incur under the new policy.

Instead of ruling on a permanent injunction, the judge said he hoped a compromise could be struck regarding the language of the new policy. Both lawyers said they were amenable to giving it a try.

Minkowitz was optimistic.

“There is a potential to bridge the divide,” he said.


(Visited 4,291 times, 1 visits today)

15 responses to “Judge Punts on School Board Policy Re. Gay Students”

  1. This is a shame. It’s never been about looking after and protecting children. This is bigotry and I’m glad something was done about it.

  2. This judge should be taken out of the courts! He’s too intimidated to judge!
    It’s CLEAR, parents’ rights over the Alphabet mafia’ rights!

  3. In the ongoing culture war struggle over what schools are required to tell parents about, advocates for violating the confidentiality of students are promoting the lie that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution gives parents the right to be told if their child is LGBTQ+, regardless of whether the student wishes it.

    The truth is that there is no such thing as “parents’ rights” anywhere in that document. The 14th Amendment clearly states that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. Those seeking mandatory notification of parents about a child’s sexuality cite this clause as justification for their position. This is also the argument being used by the Hanover Township Board of Education in trying to enforce their proposed policy. A New Jersey state judge has issued an injunction against the rule and litigation is ongoing.

    Ever since 2007, Republicans in Congress have tried to get a “Parental Rights Amendment” added to the Constitution. The proposal has never made it out of committee; in fact, it’s never even gotten a majority of Republicans to sign on as co-sponsors. There seems to be no appetite for such a law, except for the ultra-conservative culture warriors.

    Put simply, minors have the same rights as their parents. And the Hanover Township School Board rule is an unconstitutional invasion of a student’s privacy rights. And this rule is destined for failure.

  4. This policy would distract students from actual learning because the teachers would be forced to enforce a ridiculous policy all day long. This policy was poorly written and the school board members who pushed it through should be removed for poor judgement. This is costing tax payer money to deal with.

  5. And yet the US Supreme Court & NJ Supreme Court have ruled that parents absolutely do have legal rights as have other states. Unless demonstrated to be unfit, parental legal custody gives parents the right to raise their children the way they see fit, including decisions regarding their health, education, and religious upbringing.

  6. We as parents must fight these battles on our home ground. They must be strong to stand against the tides of society.
    It is not the schools position to influence our children in either way. They need to stay out of the children’s PERSONAL lives and focus on ACADEMICS.

  7. Henry said is a typical MAGA idiot. At no point do we the 14 th amendment mention parental rights. Every citizen is entitled life and liberty…age is not mentioned. Forever. It seems the most belligerent homophobes are likely suppressing their own homosexual tendencies ( merely my observation… Deal with it). The more you try to control you kid, the less chance of success you have. And if your “faith” is so limited to make you hate your child, then the issue is not your child but it is you. Your faith is just a thin excuse.

  8. Boy,reading comments supporting this school board policy is just mind bogling…..if a child is gay,and is not comfortable to tell his/her parents,that’s their RIGHT!
    Do some of you realize the how many children are kicked out of their homes or the high rate of teenage suicides are because of this type of foolishness.Gods love is inclusive,too bad we as human beings can’t be the same☹️☹️☹️

  9. Republicans are schizoid first it’s small gvt. Then it’s teachers as morality police in the classroom making phone calls to parents and others?
    No thank you.

  10. They once asked Michael Schnackenberg what position he played on the baseball field. He said: “Left out”. Schnackenberg is so far wide of the mark with his comment that parental rights is not in the Constitution, that it would be legal malpractice if he’s an attorney. The First, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution protects parental rights. There has been a long historical line of U.S. Supreme Court cases since 1923 stating such. Even NJ caselaw states as much.

    If Schnackenberg is a lawyer, he needs to go back to law school and take the classes on the U.S. Constitution, since he obviously didn’t when in school.

    And, minors DO NOT HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS as their parents!!!! Minors can’t drive, drink alcoholic beverages, contract, get married, etc. until they turn 18 years of age.

    In fact, every medical, psychological and psychiatric university, studies, peer-reviewed periodicals, and other resources have shown that the frontal lobe of the brain–the decision-making, reasoning part of the brain–is NOT fully developed until 25 years of age. Children are very susceptible to a lot of things when growing up. They are like sponges. LGBTQ programs and programming and Pornography have been shown in studies to imprint themselves on children’s brains. This causes a lot of confusion, upset, and mental disorders in children.

    Once again, children cannot make proper decisions until at least 25 y.o. and having public government-run schools forcing/compelling/coercing children to be hypersexualized and become racists is criminal child abuse and criminal child sexual abuse. Anyone promoting hypersexualization of children is a pedophile and groomer.

  11. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on. This would just distract teachers and students from actual learning. If you support this, then you either don’t have kids in school or you just don’t care about your children getting a quality education.

  12. BD Mart – The constitution does not say anything explicit about the right to privacy; yet we all recognize that the right exists. Why are you suggesting that a parent’s right to know about and guide their minor children should be dismissed out of hand?

  13. How are educational officials supposed to know who is gay?

    Is there a test? Who is going to protect children from abusive parents or religious zealots that are disgusted by their own children having sexual orientation that they don’t understand?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News From Around the Web

The Political Landscape