Parents rail against NJ school district’s ‘woke’ transgender program: ‘Can we just get back to teaching?’

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Parents and parent rights groups are outraged in a school district in New Jersey on its gender identity curriculum and accuse the district of encouraging students to transition.

Public schools in Lawrence Township have adopted a transgender policy for the current school year, similar to the other 600 districts in New Jersey. Policy 5756 was originally adopted in 2016 and revised three years later. The district believes the policy is state-mandated, but a clarification released in April by the New Jersey Department of Education says the state “does not impose a curriculum.”

“I’m tired of people hiding behind [state learning standards] as an excuse to teach this far-left agenda, this woke agenda, this agenda that includes gender theory and all these other things that confuse our children,” parent Robert Pluta, who removed his children from the district, told FOX News Digital.

Gender identity lesson plans, books and assignments are part of the district’s school curriculum.

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Parents and parenting rights groups are outraged by a New Jersey school district over its gender identity curriculum.
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“This super woke progressive program…it’s so saturated with race and gender. And it’s just like, can we just go back to teaching? I don’t want a conservative school, I don’t want a liberal school,” Pluta said.

The picture book “Jacob’s New Dress” Kindergarten read by Ian Hoffman and Sarah Hoffman tells the story of a young boy who likes to dress up and wants to wear a dress to school, even though his classmates tell him he can’t not wear “girl” clothes. Kindergarteners also read Cheryl Kilodavis’ “My Princess Boy,” which follows a boy who likes “pretty things” and prefers to wear tiaras and “girly dresses.”

Sophomores read “10,000 Dresses” by Marcus Ewert, which features a biological boy named Bailey who dreams of wearing extravagant dresses, and “Red” by Michael Hall, a story that details how a blue pencil with a red tag faces an identity crisis because the color he identifies inside is not the one seen on his tag.

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And fifth graders are told the story of “PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag” by Rob Sanders. Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.

Another parent, who also lives in the district and pulled her children out of the public school system on a gender identity program, cited a lesson about “snowperson gender” taught to fourth graders, who are asked to think of themselves as a “snowman” and play a game where they can choose their gender.

“My main concern is that they push the social transition. programs and policy really promote, they really encourage kids to consider social transition,” the parent, who wished to remain anonymous, told FOX News Digital.

The parent also explained that there are four stages in gender transition: social transition, puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and sex reassignment surgery. She said the district defends itself by noting that it does not administer puberty blockers or use other medical gender transition methods.

“Once you lead the horse to the water trough, the horse will drink,” she said. “That’s what a lot of parents are so concerned about, that they actually encourage it.”

In Lawrence Township, there is a “Social Justice” unit as part of the “Identity/True Self” social studies curriculum, which is taught to students starting in Kindergarten.

Fifth grade students in this unit learn that “one of the first steps that all people – adults or children – take, if they feel that their internal sense of gender and their sex assigned at birth do not match, is to social transition”.

“It means that adults and children live their lives in a way that expresses their internal sense of who they are – their gender identity,” the unit’s description reads. “A person may use a new name and/or different pronouns than before. Some might change their gender expression – wear different clothes or have a new hairstyle. Students generally want – and have the right – to use facilities or participate in school activities that match their gender identity.

Erika Sanzi, outreach director of the nonprofit parent group Parents Defending Education, told FOX News Digital that the program was “completely inappropriate for elementary school students.”

“It’s based on gender ideology and is no different than a teacher choosing to read the catechism and telling the students that everything is true,” she said. “Maybe instead of indoctrinating 5 years and 8 yearsthey could focus on teaching reading without activism.

Other social studies units taught to young school children include ‘skin color’, ‘bias/prejudice’ and ‘being an ally/a protest’.

According to the district’s transgender policy, New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law “generally prohibits schools from subjecting individuals to differential treatment based on gender identity or expression.”

The policy also states that the district “accepts a student’s asserted gender identity” and that “parental consent is not required.”

“A student does not need to answer diagnostic threshold or treatment requirements to have their gender identity recognized and respected by the school district, school or school staff members,” the policy states. “Furthermore, a legal or court-ordered name change is not required. There is no affirmative duty on any school district personnel to notify a student’s parent of the identity or student’s gender expression.

The Lawrence Township Public Schools Transgender Policy has been adopted for the current school year along with all 600 other districts in New Jersey. Policy 5756 was originally adopted in 2016 and revised three years later.
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The New Jersey Learning Standards explain that a school board “must include instruction on the political, economic and social contributions persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons to an appropriate place in the curriculum for middle and high school students as part of the district’s implementation of state learning standards.

Parents have previously criticized the district school board over the gender identity curriculum, including at an Oct. 19 school board meeting where a board attorney said in his interpretation of the law that parents have no right to determine what is taught. in their children’s school.

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The right of parents “is not to dictate what their children are taught, it is to determine where they go,” attorney John Comegno said at the time.

The Garden State has no school voucher program which would allow parents to use public funds earmarked for their child’s education to pay for tuition at another school.

“Advocates of the government school monopoly believe they have the right to raise other people’s children as they see fit,” said Corey DeAngelis, senior researcher for the American Federation for Children and school choice campaigner. , to FOX News Digital. “This is a deeply flawed philosophical position that most people find retrograde. Children do not belong to the government. Parents are in the best position to make education decisions for their own children and have the fundamental right to do so.

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“The main problem is that the public school system is a one-size-fits-all disaster that, by definition, will never meet the needs of every family,” he added. “Parents disagree about how they want their children to be raised and educated – and that’s OK. The problem is that vested interests dictate how to raise other people’s children in the current system.

DeAngelis explained that “the only way out of this mess through freedom rather than force is to directly fund students and empower families to choose the education providers that best meet their needs and s align with their values.

“At the same time, the competition will make public schools focus on the essentials, because most parents want their children to receive education rather than indoctrination.”

The district is represented by Democratic U.S. Representative Andy Kim, who defeated Republican challenger Bob Healey in the midterm elections. Healey told FOX News Digital that Kim “is as radical as he can be on issues involving our children and our schools.”

“He supports sex education for kindergarteners, biological men who play girl sports and thinks parents who attend school board meetings are ‘extremists’ for simply caring about what their kids are learning. in the classroom,” Healey said.

Kim’s office did not respond to a request for comment from FOX News Digital.

The Garden State does not have a school voucher program that would allow parents to use public funds intended for their children’s education for tuition at another school.
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Three members of the Lawrence Township school board vying for re-election — Pepper Evans, Michelle King and Amanda Santos — all won last week against critical challengers from the board and the district’s agenda.

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“School choice is the only way to truly guarantee parental rights in education. New Jersey public schools were funded at over $24,000 per student in 2020,” DeAngelis said, citing data from the US Census Bureau. “This money should go directly to families so they can find the education providers that best meet the needs of their children.

Attendees at the Oct. 19 school board meeting also saw a first-grade teacher from Lawrence Township wearing a “Columbus was a murderer” t-shirt. This happened shortly after Columbus Day and despite New Jersey having a large Catholic population.

The Lawrence Township Board of Education did not respond to a request for comment from FOX News Digital.

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