HANOVER — On May 16, 2023, the Hanover Township Board of Education passed Board Policy 8463, Parental Notice of Material Circumstances.
Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin confirmed the filing of a Division on Civil Rights (DCR) complaint challenging an unlawful policy enacted by the Hanover Township Board of Education. The policy requires school staff to notify parents of the gender identity and sexual orientation of LGBTQ+ students. Attorney General Platkin and DCR have also filed an emergency motion in Superior Court, requesting a preliminary injunction and temporary restraints to prevent the policy from going into effect. In contrast, DCR’s challenge to the policy remains pending.
The administrative complaint and the motion for a preliminary injunction allege that the Hanover Township Board of Education policy violates the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination’s (LAD) prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
“Contrary to the Attorney General’s Office’s erroneous assertions, Policy 8463 does not unlawfully discriminate against any student based on any protected status. Rather, a simple reading of Policy 8463 reveals that it requires school staff members to notify appropriate school administrators and a student’s parents whenever the staff member is made aware of any facts or circumstances that may have a material impact on a student’s physical and/or mental health and/or social/emotional well-being, including but not limited to the following issues: substance use; tobacco/vaping use; alcohol use; firearms; peer/academic/athletic pressures; school performance; eating disorders; suicide; self-harm; anxiety; depression; fatigue; isolationism / anti-social behaviors / social withdraw; truancy; theft; vandalism; unlawful activity; violent or aggressive behavior; preoccupation with anti-social music; pornography; sexual activity; sexuality; sexual orientation; transitioning; gender identity or expression; gang affiliation; obsessive-compulsive behaviors; familial/cultural challenges; harassment; intimidation; or bullying,” in a press release from the Hanover Township Board of Education.
Board Policy 8463 requires that staff members “say something to the parents and appropriate school administrators” if they “see something that could adversely affect the social/emotional well-being of a child.” The Hanover Township Board of Education believes that parents need to be fully informed of all material issues that could impact their children so that they – as parents – can provide the proper care and support for their children. The Board will vigorously defend this common-sense policy that protects parental rights and ensures the safety of all school children.
“We will always stand up for the LGBTQ+ community here in New Jersey and look forward to presenting our arguments in court,” said Attorney General Platkin. “We are extremely proud of the contributions LGBTQ+ students make to our classrooms and our communities, and we remain committed to protecting them from discrimination in our schools.”
In addition to filing an administrative civil rights complaint, DCR has filed a motion in Superior Court requesting temporary restraints and a preliminary injunction against the policy’s implementation. In contrast, the administrative complaint is being adjudicated by DCR.
The policy challenge was enacted by the Board of Education on May 16, 2023. It provides that all school staff members shall “immediately, fully and accurately inform a student’s parent(s) whenever such staff member is made aware of, directly or indirectly, any facts or circumstances that may have a material impact on the student’s physical and/or mental health, safety and/or social/emotional well-being,” including, among other things, a student’s “sexuality,” “sexual orientation,” “transitioning,” and “gender identity or expression.”
The complaint filed does not challenge other aspects of the policy that, on their face, do not violate the Law Against Discrimination, such as the requirements for parental notification related to “substance use,” “alcohol use,” “firearms,” or “unlawful activity.”