Today New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law mandating guidance from the Commissioner of Education on transgender students. New Jersey will now be the 11th state (+ DC) to issue statewide guidance.
This is a huge victory for equality in New Jersey, and we want to send a big thank you to Governor Christie for standing on the right side of history on this one. As he did with the conversion therapy ban, Governor Christie took a stand for LGBT youth in New Jersey by signing this important legislation, and he deserves our thanks.
We also want to thank our legislative allies, our community partners, and all of our members who fought hard for this win. We want to thank the parents and children who came down to the statehouse, told their stories, and put a human face on this story. This victory belongs to all of you and to the young people throughout the state of New Jersey who will be able to attend safer, more welcoming schools thanks to your efforts.
Add your name below before we send this final letter to outgoing Governor Chris Christie!763 SIGNATURES750 signatures
Dear Governor Christie:
We are going to be straight with you. This is our last appeal before you leave office. Hear us out. More than two-thirds of the New Jersey Legislature voted this session to require the Commissioner of Education to draft guidance for school districts on transgender students. In the same session, a remarkable four-fifths of the legislature voted to prohibit health insurers from discriminating in providing coverage and services based on gender identity. The LGBT community and our allies in New Jersey urge you to sign bills A4652/S3067 and A4568/S3017.
Both measures enjoyed bipartisan support, with a strong majority (63%) of your fellow Republicans voting in favor of prohibiting discrimination in health insurance on the basis of gender identity.
As you are no doubt aware, New Jersey state law prohibits discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. Yet with transgender students in every corner of the state, schools across New Jersey need guidance on how to work with these students and their families to provide welcoming schools. Civil rights are not a local issue, and access to education cannot be decided on the municipal level. Put simply, all students deserve equal access to educational opportunities and the path forward they provide, regardless of where in the Garden State they call home. It’s time for New Jersey to be a leader, and join with ten other states and the District of Columbia in issuing guidance at the state level. This is a matter of doing what’s right for all students, including transgender students. As Jamie Bruesehoff, a mom from Sussex County puts it:
“When my daughter goes to school, she doesn't think about being transgender. In her words, she goes to school thinking about being herself, learning, and having fun like any other kid. Every student deserves access to a safe and affirming school environment where they can do the same, and every school needs clear guidance on how to make that happen.”
We also urge you to sign a bill that would ensure that insurers in New Jersey can no longer discriminate against transgender people. This measure received widespread and bipartisan support, with a majority of members of both parties voting in favor of the bill and a final vote tally of 99-3 (both houses). These legislators recognize what the medical community has understood for a long time: transition-related care is medically necessary care, and should be covered by health insurance policies. Many of the conservatives who voted in favor of this bill did so both because it is the right thing to do, and because it is cost-effective. Jennifer Williams, one of our members in Mercer County, makes clear this is not a partisan issue:
"As a fiscally-conservative, freedom-minded Republican who happens to be transgender, I want our Governor to know that this bill will make sure that New Jerseyans like me have full and equal access to medical care in our state. All medical insurance policies in New Jersey should cover transition-related care for our community because it is indeed medically necessary and it is the right thing to do. My wife and I have supported Governor Christie in the past and we hope he will support us and other New Jersey families by signing this bill right away."
Signing these bills is the right thing to do for our community, and it’s the right thing to do for New Jersey. If you have questions, we encourage you to reach out to Garden State Equality. We can answer your questions and put you in touch with transgender New Jerseyans and their families who are eager to meet with you on these issues.
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Garden State Equality is proud to announce that legislation - sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt - that would expand New Jersey's infertility coverage laws to same sex couples and single women was signed into law yesterday by the governor. This new law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature. Today, New Jersey joins Maryland and California as leaders in protecting the rights of the LGBT community and ensuring equal access to infertility treatment regardless of sexual preference or marital status.Continue reading
ASBURY PARK, N.J. – Jersey Pride, Inc. is joining with Garden State Equality to produce a unique conference on community activism and organizing to be held this month at the Asbury Hotel in Asbury Park. Intended to inspire and inform, the conference comes at a critical time in the wave of resistance efforts across the country and coincides with the ending of the new administration’s first 100 days in office.
United 2017: Community Activism & Organizing in an Age of AltReason will be a one-day conference held in Asbury Park, NJ, at the Asbury Hotel on Sunday, April 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is intended to help engage, direct, and enable those interested in community organizing and activism to take steps knowledgeably, responsibly and with confidence and community.
“Our goal is for attendees to leave the conference with an understanding of and confidence in how to engage with the activism community,” said Laura Pople, conference organizer and president of Jersey Pride, Inc. “We also hope they learn how to prioritize issues they feel strongly about, how to use and interpret messaging and language, and, essentially, what to do with the energy, frustration and despair many are currently experiencing under the current administration, especially.”
One unique feature of the conference will be a “political carousel” held during the morning program. This session will offer informal question-and answer-sessions with four local politicians, enabling all conference attendees the opportunity to discuss critical issues with each.
The conference will kick off with a plenary address by nationally recognized media and communications expert and LGBT leader Cathy Renna. Reverend Gil Caldwell, a retired United Methodist minister and lifelong activist in the Civil Rights Movement, will close the conference with a presentation about his documentary From Selma to Stonewall. Other presenters include Kathy O’Brien & Axel Torres Marrero (Hyacinth AIDS Foundation), Aaron Potenza & Ben Fisher (Garden State Equality), trainer Lori Tarke, Michelle Julet (The Business of Doing Good), Carol Watchler (GLSEN), author Seth Rainess, Sue Doster (Co-chair, National Equality March for Unity and Pride), Gordon Sauer (SAGE), Michael Billy (Jersey City Stands) and Frank Van Dalen (Interpride).
The conference is sponsored by The Asbury Hotel and Out in New Jersey. The cost for attendance is $75, with discounts for seniors and students. Scholarships are also being offered in an effort to increase accessibility. Information and registration is available online at united.jerseypride.org.
GARDEN STATE EQUALITY HEADQUARTERS IN ASBURY PARK ATTACKED IN WEEKEND ACT OF VANDALISM Yesterday afternoon, Saturday, March 4th, Garden State Equality statewide headquarters in Asbury Park was attacked and vandalized in an act of hatred against the LGBT community. Executive Director Christian Fuscarino was inside working at the time, but did not sustain injuries. "This kind of incident shows that hate knows no boundaries. It is not restricted by geography, even in a state as historically progressive as ours. While we have been shaken by this attack, the LGBT community in New Jersey will not be intimidated, nor will it be silenced. We will continue to fight for equality for all our members, and for any individual or group who finds themselves the victim of a similar hateful and dangerous act," said Fuscarino. Garden State Equality is working with the Asbury Park Police Department on identifying the attackers responsible. The attackers hit the door exactly where the rainbow flag was affixed and the organization expects the police should & will investigate it as an attack on all LGBT people. In the meantime, friends of Garden State Equality from across New Jersey are voicing their support for the organization in light of the attack. "Garden State Equality is on the front lines of the fight to advance equality for all. An attack against any community is an attack against us all. I condemn acts of hate against all communities, whether Jewish, Muslim or LGBT, in the strongest possible terms. We must stand united with love against the shadow of hate that has been cast over our great nation" said Senator Cory Booker (D) "Garden State Equality is a pillar of our community fighting to make sure every citizen of New Jersey has the respect and equal rights they deserve, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no room for this kind of shameful violence, vandalism, or hate in New Jersey or anywhere in America. We stand with Garden State Equality and the LGBTQ community," said Congressman Donald Norcross (D) "As soon as I heard about this disturbing act at the offices of Garden State Equality, I called Christian to make sure everyone was ok. There is no room in our society for this. Period." said Congressman Tom MacArthur (R) "It is a sad time in our country when Americans must fear their neighbors, we must work to respect each other more than ever before. No American citizen should be targeted with violence, the LGBT community here in New Jersey should be as safe as any. All victimization makes each of us less safe, let's work to be vigilant and protective of each other" said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D) "Asbury Park has been a haven for the LGBT community for decades. That vandalism does not represent the town as a whole & strengthens our resolve to stand with our gay, lesbian, bi, and trans brothers and sister." said Asbury Park Councilwoman Amy Quinn.
A message from our Executive Director, Christian Fuscarino, about the Trump administration's guidance in schools: The Trump Administration has announced guidance that will negatively impact the lives of LGBT youth in schools. Like many of you, I cannot fathom why this is a priority for the administration, to attack those most vulnerable in our community, Trans youth. But, in this time of uncertainty, I can promise you that Garden State Equality will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our young people have a safe place to learn and grow into confident and educated adults. Here is what you need to know: Every day we fight hard for New Jersey's youth. We have been providing professional development trainings for teachers and staff and we have a great policy on transgender students that dozen of New Jersey schools have adopted. In response to Trump's guidelines, we will increase our efforts to provide appropriate policy consultation to administrators. This is key to keeping our students safe. Trans youth still have rights under Title IX. And you better believe we will advocate for transgender youth and their families in situations where they have faced discrimination in school. Here is what needs to happen in New Jersey immediately: We are done being bullied by the Christie administration. Now more than ever we need the NJ Department of Education to step up and issue statewide guidance on working with transgender students. Well over a year ago, Garden State Equality drafted the guidance for the state to adopt, we met numerous times with representatives of the NJ Department of Education to explain the importance of adopting the guidance, and they have refused to act. Connecticut and New York, along with nine other states and the District of Columbia have already issued guidance protecting transgender students. It is this type of inaction that recently rated New Jersey a "medium equality state" by the Movement Advancement Project. We are dedicated to this work, but I need your help now more than ever. Today we are launching the "Safe Schools Advocacy Club", where members like you can join to help us fight for our youth. As a member, you will be supporting our certified staff to work in schools to get the proper policies passed to protect our youth from the actions our Federal Government is taking to strip the rights of our young people. Become a member of our Safe Schools Advocacy Club right now. I need you. Our youth need you. Thank you for letting me be forward with you. There has never been a more important time. In solidarity, Christian Fuscarino
Today we take an important step forward as a community and a state, with the opening of the first full service LGBT health clinic. Robert Wood Johnson’s PROUD Family Health Clinic will serve "LGBTQIA" individuals and families, providing access to the services we need in our home state. RWJ recognizes that LGBT individuals have unique medical needs, and they are committed to providing for those needs in a safe and supportive environment. Prior to opening the PROUD Family Health Clinic, RWJ established a partnership with Garden State Equality to ensure that staff receive ongoing training in both cultural and clinical competencies. 1,100 employees have been trained so far!Continue reading
Everyday, Garden State Equality fights for the rights of New Jersey's most vulnerable students, working with families, educators, students, and school administrators to make our schools safer for LGBT youth. As the child of two public school teachers, a former educator, a historian, and a safe schools advocate, I know that an informed citizenry is the bedrock of democracy, and that quality public education is essential not only to our children's futures, but to the future of our country. There is no other way to put this: today is a sad day for American public education, and a sad day for our nation's children. Today, all but two Republican senators voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. In so doing they placed our public schools under the charge of an avowed enemy of public education.Continue reading
Garden State Equality stands with Joe Maldonado, an 8-year old Secaucus boy who was kicked out of the Boy Scouts for being transgender. We first met Joe in the summer of 2015, when his mom Kristie, a fierce advocate for her son, reached out to GSE for help in supporting Joe’s transition at school. We worked with his elementary school to ensure that Joe was able to attend school as a boy, providing policy consultation to administrators and professional development training for teachers and staff on working with transgender youth. Since that time we have continued to be an ally and resource to Joe’s family.Continue reading
NEW JERSEY’S LARGEST LGBT ORGANIZATION CALLS ON MEMBERS TO DIRECTLY TAKE DOWN GARRETT AND CLEANSE NEW JERSEY OF HATE GLEN ROCK, NJ - Garden State Equality (GSE), New Jersey’s largest organization dedicated to the rights of the LGBT community, is calling on it’s members and anyone who stands against homophobia to attend a “No Hate In Our State” rally on October 18th in Glen Rock, NJ at the Harding Plaza next to Glen Rock City Hall. The location is a highly visible choice being right next to a major commuter train station in Garrett’s district. The rally will begin at 6pm.Continue reading
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