In a controversial move, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) has defended a decision by his administration to prevent school districts from informing parents if their children exhibit signs of gender transitioning. To Murphy, this action is a crucial step in safeguarding student privacy and promoting an “inclusive,” safe learning environment.
In June, three New Jersey school districts – Middletown, Marlboro, and Manalapan-Englishtown Regional – had approved policies mandating parental notification if children showed signs of transitioning to another gender. Indicators included students adopting different names, pronouns, or using bathrooms not aligned with their biological sex.
In response, Murphy’s administration declared an intention to sue the districts, arguing such policies risked outing students and jeopardizing their safety.
“Without question, the discriminatory policies passed by these boards of education, if allowed to go into effect, will harm our kids and pose severe risk to their safety,” warned New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, who initiated emergency lawsuits challenging these school board policies.
During a recent appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Gov. Murphy tackled questions about this sensitive issue. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) had previously suggested that while transgender procedures for minors should be permissible, parental involvement was crucial.
Anchor Margaret Brennan referred to Christie’s stance, asking, “Why is Mr. Christie wrong when he says parents are the ones who know best here and they should be involved?”
Governor Murphy retorted, “Listen, we took these actions, because it’s the right thing to do to protect these precious young people,” while maintaining that parents were always included in his administration’s actions. He emphasized the importance of children’s rights and the protection of the LGBTQIA+ community.
In past litigation, while children’s rights are recognized in government dealings, their privacy rights largely remain the responsibility of the parents. In this context, Brennan questioned Murphy about the argument that prohibiting school staff from disclosing a child’s gender transition attempts to their parents is a violation of parents’ constitutional rights to direct their children’s upbringing.
Acknowledging parental rights, Murphy insisted, “But let’s not violate the … constitutional and civil rights of precious young folks in many cases, who are coming to grips with life and as they grow up and grow older, let’s be respectful of that. Let’s be all in this together as opposed to this ‘us versus them’ demonizing.”