Public calls for school board member to resign after anti-LGBT remarks

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A Hackensack School Board member is facing calls for her resignation over comments she made speaking out against the state’s new requirement to teach LGBT history in schools.

Frances Cogelja made those remarks in an email to the then-acting Hackensack school superintendent in February. The email included comments from Cogelja saying that she was disgusted and appalled by the teaching of LGBT history in public schools. She said, “This alternative lifestyle narrative is being shoved down our children throats,” and that she fears where the nation was heading.

Members of the public spoke out against Cogelja at a scheduled city council meeting Tuesday. Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse Jr. read a statement prior to the public comment section stating that the city council did not condone or share Cogelja’s believes, but that they do accept her apology for the comments. Labrosse supported Cogelja’s run for the school board.

But many members of the public made it clear that they did not accept the apology and called for the school board trustee to resign.

“Her rhetoric contributes to an extremely toxic culture of homophobia that exists in too many facets of our society,” one Hackensack resident said during the meeting. “Laws like the New Jersey curriculum law work to combat that. It’s a shame that the cries and voices of stonewall aren’t echoed in a textbook.”

Another resident accused the city council of lying.

“You lied and said that you don’t condone her remarks. You do condone it because you are allowing her to stay on this board,” the resident said.

There were some residents who defended Cogelja and said that they supported her right to speak her mind and that they support her beliefs.

Cogelja has said that she will not step down. She did not return News 12 New Jersey’s requests for comment.

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