🔴 3 Monmouth County school boards approved transgender policy in conflict with the state

🔴 A judge heard arguments about whether or not to lift a state injunction

🔴 A decision should be made 'shortly' by Judge David Bauman

The fate of transgender policies approved by three Monmouth County school districts in conflict with the state are now in the hands of a judge.

Manalapan, Marlboro and Middletown voted in their respective meetings on June 21 to require parents to be notified of any changes made by a student in their gender identity. The changes appeared to be at odds with state policy requiring districts to ensure a transgender student is addressed by the name and pronoun they choose regardless if it is a legal change or a parent is aware.

The day after the votes, Attorney General Platkin filed discrimination lawsuits against each district and requested Superior Court orders preventing the policies from going into effect while the lawsuits are pending.

Superior Court Judge David Bauman, sitting in Monmouth County, heard arguments Tuesday from attorneys for Marlboro and Middletown as well as the state. According to coverage of the hearing by Patch, Bauman asked the respective sides some of the questions raised in the discussion over the policy.

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New Jersey public school transgender student guidance
New Jersey public school transgender student guidance (Canva)

Optimisim about the hearing

When asked about whether or not the parents of a 5-year-old transgender student should be informed about their child, a deputy attorney general told the judge that it would violate state policy.

Middletown attorney Bruce Padula argued that the state cannot pick and choose when parental notification is necessary.

All sides were optimistic about the hearing.

"I thought today went very well. Judge Baumann asked the state some very pointed questions," Middletown Board of Education Vice President Jacqueline Tobacco told New Jersey 101.5 in an email.

"Amid all the accusations of discrimination, the state neglected to reiterate that their guidelines require districts to not disclose to a parent when a child is dealing with gender identity issues. Everyone agrees that this demographic of students is at heightened risk of suicide," Tobacco said. "There is no other mental health issue a child faces in school that would be considered protected from parental knowledge. If we really want to protect trans- kids parents should be part of the conversation."

Hearing in Monmouth County Superior Court about injunction against local BOE transgender policies 8/15/23
Hearing in Monmouth County Superior Court about injunction against local BOE transgender policies 8/15/23 (POOL: Carly Baldwin/Patch)

Transgender kids in danger?

Marlboro attorney Marc Zitomer also thought the hearing went well for the school boards.

"I thought that our arguments went well and that the state did not meet any of the criteria for obtaining the preliminary injunction it is seeking. Hopefully, the judge sees it the same way," Zitomer said in an email.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General said they were grateful for the chance to present their argument.

"The state has always respected the rights of parents and agrees that parents should be involved in important decisions regarding their children — and any characterizations to the contrary are flatly incorrect. To be clear: the state has never sought and never will seek a 'ban' on parental notification," the spokesperson said in a statement.

However, Platkin said when issuing the injunction that informing parents could potentially threaten the health and safety of young people.

"By imposing a requirement that school staff must 'out' these students to their parents, the policies expose these students to the potential for severe harms to their safety and mental health. The policies also disregard and contradict guidance from the New Jersey Department of Education concerning the confidentiality and privacy of such information," Platkin said in a statement.

Bauman told the court he would have a decision "shortly" but did not specify a date.

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