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‘I’m not alone on this.’ Lawmakers criticize new school rules that remove gendered language

The new rules narrowly passed the state Board of Education with a 6-5 vote.

Matt Trapani

Aug 7, 2023, 10:48 PM

Updated 316 days ago

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A Republican state senator is leading the charge to repeal a controversial decision from the state Board of Education last week that will officially end the use of male and female pronouns in New Jersey school regulations.
A contentious state Board of Education meeting last week ended with a narrow yes vote on a controversial new equity policy that’s being criticized by Republicans and not being welcomed by Democrats in the Legislature. The motion passed with a vote of 6-5.
“They revealed their true colors, that they’re completely out of touch with the parental rights movement and parents in the state of New Jersey,” says Republican state Sen. Mike Testa.
Testa is a conservative Republican from South Jersey. He and other GOP lawmakers announced Monday they’re planning legislation to strike down the new equity code.
“To me, that is eradicating the traditional notions of male and female. Why? Again, are we going to deny there is a difference between biological males and biological females? Is that what we’re going to focus on teaching our children that there is no difference between male and female?” Testa asks.
The new equity code aims to “eliminate gendered nouns and pronouns,” removes references to “two/both” sexes and replaces them with “all sexes," and updates Department of Education regulations to separate sexuality courses “based on gender identity” and not biological sex.”
With every seat in the state Assembly and state Senate up for election in November, the new rules have had some bipartisan pushback. Democrats criticize the state Board of Education, wary of handing Republicans a so-called “culture war” issue three months before Election Day.
The state’s two top Democratic lawmakers - Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Nick Scutari – said they “expected better communication” from the state Board of Education and vowed families will continue to “have a voice in what is taught to their children.”
“I’m not alone on this, this isn’t a partisan issue. I think it’s a very bipartisan issue,” Testa says.
Democratic state Sens. Vin Gopal of Monmouth County and Joe Lagana of Bergen County said in a statement they “strongly condemn the State Board of Education making any threats relating to 'sanctions' to local school districts…we also strongly condemn the misinformation and politicizing campaigns that our schools are falling victim to.”
The state Department of Education declined to be interviewed about this topic.


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