Garden State Equality members, community leaders and organizations rally to support State Board of Education equity and inclusion efforts

 

 

TRENTON, NJ — Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, rallied Wednesday with members and community leaders before the New Jersey State Board of Education meeting to urge the Board to continue supporting vital equity and inclusion policies that keep students and staff safe across the state.

 

“New Jersey’s public schools reflect the rainbow diversity of our state and we are proud to educate every student who walks through the doors,” said New Jersey Education Association President Sean Spiller. “To do that well, our schools need to be inclusive, safe and welcoming to all.  We urge the State Board of Education to continue and to expand on the policies that make that possible.”

 

Last month, the Board narrowly voted 6-5 to adopt inclusive language into the state education code and re-authorize existing equity in education standards. Conservative activists responded with vocal opposition, calling on the Board to revoke these policies as part of their larger plan to erase the discussion of LGBTQ+ people and issues from public life.

 

The same activists showed up at this month’s Board meeting to spread their hateful agenda but were met with a resounding rebuttal from members of Garden State Equality. During the rally, they loudly and proudly reminded the Board and conservative activists that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and affirming policies make schools more welcoming and affirming for all students and staff, not just members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Today’s event and the testimonials given by conservative activists really solidified what we already knew — this issue is not about protecting all kids or even education at all,” said Lauren Albrecht, Garden State Equality’s Director of Advocacy & Organizing. “It’s about an overwhelming hatred of LGBTQ+ people. Period.”

“I’m here as a person of faith to say we stand with our LGBTQ+ family and especially trans kids to let them know they have inherent worth and value and that we will stand with them,” said Reverend Charles Loflin, Executive Director of Unitarian Universalist Faith Action of New Jersey. “We’re calling on the State Board of Education to keep the policy open and inclusive because it’s the right thing to do.”

 

“We, the educators, the ones who know best about our students’ needs and how to meet them, are imploring you to listen,” said New Jersey Education Association Vice President Steve Beatty “We must come together to stand up against intolerance and hate, and stick together to support our kids and their ability to be their best and authentic selves.”

 

Damien Alan Lopez, Project Manager and Trainer at Garden State Equality, led the several dozen person-strong Garden State Equality members in chants of: “Safe schools save lives, bad policies take them!”

 

“It’s critical to children’s mental health and wellness to feel accepted in order to live a happy, successful life — that includes success in school,” said Franceline Ehret, New Jersey State Director of the Communication Workers of America. “The equity policies adopted by the State Board of Education can only help to make a positive difference in the lives of kids who identify along the LGBTQ+ spectrum. We need to do all we can to help these kids feel good about who they are because we know the facts: children who fear rejection and come to hate who they are have the highest rate of self harm and suicide.”

 

“All people deserve to feel seen and accepted for who they are and who they want to be,” said Jackie Cornell, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. “As a queer person and a parent, I feel it is imperative to speak up in support of policies that reflect the diversity of our state and promote respect and compassion. I’ve witnessed firsthand that creating a safe environment for LGBTQ+ students helps all students feel more accepted and seen. At Planned Parenthood, we value equity and inclusion, and we enthusiastically support the revised Board of Education policies that center equity for all students.”

 

Since 2006, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination — a state statute — has required any sex-segregated education to include individuals according to their gender identity. We commend the State Board of Education for following this statute and ensuring that New Jersey’s public schools — #1 in the nation — remain safe for all students.

 

#SafeSchoolsSaveLives

 

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Garden State Equality, the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization in New Jersey, lifts up the diverse voices of LGBTQ+ communities through education and advocacy to advance the movement for equality in New Jersey and nationally.

 

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