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Garden State Equality
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    ASBURY PARK, NJ - Garden State Equality (GSE) will be bringing on their newest team member, Dr. Tyree Oredein, as the Safe Schools Coordinator for North Jersey. The program is being funded by a grant awarded to GSE by PSE&G.

    With demand for GSE’s Teach and Affirm Program increasing, the hiring of their second Safe Schools Coordinator will enable the organization to visit even more schools and develop more outreach materials and curricular resources in the upcoming school year.

    “We are confident that having two Safe Schools Coordinators will also enhance our ability to host more special activities, such as our youth caucus program, new Library Series, our Educators for Equality program, and education conferences that extend our reach,” said Denise Rodriguez, Garden State Equality Director of Development. “We know that youth are influenced by their peers, and creating additional projects and activities that are youth-directed will bolster our message of inclusion and effectuate even greater positive changes in the communities we serve across New Jersey.”

    In October of 2017, GSE hired a Safe Schools Coordinator, Ashley Chiappano, who enhanced their anti-bullying program, Teach and Affirm, and expanded their reach to more schools and youth-based organizations across New Jersey. Since bringing on Chiappano less than a year ago, their Safe Schools Program has provided over 70 workshops, trainings, and information sessions that have reached hundreds of youth, parents, community leaders, and educators across the State.

    Despite a substantial amount of progress, GSE still looks to expand their work further in NJ schools. Moving forward, the organization anticipates making additional developments in the area of their anti-bullying programming, along with continued outreach to schools. Having a second Safe Schools Coordinator designated to North Jersey provides GSE a broader reach to school districts and other youth-based organizations.

    Dr. Oredein has an extensive background in creating and ensuring safe spaces for sexual minority youth in academic, professional, social service, and community settings. Since 2005, she has delivered hundreds of Professional Development training workshops to more than 5,000 administrators, educators, social service & medical providers, police officers, correction officers, graduate and undergraduate students, high school students, peer educators, and community members.

    Additionally, Dr. Oredein has facilitated numerous workshops on HIV/AIDS, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), STIs, sexuality, healthy relationships, media and health literacy, and other pertinent topics affecting youth. She has visited K through 12 settings to deliver presentations on anti-bullying and acceptance in an effort to create safer spaces in schools and has been a fixture at various LGBTQIA+ youth forums and summits across New Jersey. She also sits on the Board of Directors for Say Ah!, a non-profit agency dedicated to increasing health literacy, and she is an adjunct professor at Montclair State University in the Department of Public Health.

    Dr. Oredein, who received her Doctorate of Public Health (Dr.P.H.) from Rutgers University, her Masters of Public Health (M.P.H) from Hunter College, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Wellesley College, began her work as the GSE Safe Schools Coordinator for North Jersey on Wednesday, August 15, 2018.

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  • Governor Murphy's Pride Reception

    This past Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady, Tammy Murphy, hosted a Pride Reception at the Governor’s mansion in Princeton.

    The event was filled with LGBTQ advocates and allies, gathering together to commemorate an astounding Pride Season and a multitude of progressive accomplishments that have taken place in the recent months.

    Included in these accomplishments are the passing of the Babs Siperstein Law, the Death Certificate Bill, and the Transgender Task Force.

    Among the guests were the evening’s Champions of Equality Award recipients, Babs Siperstein, Tim Eustace, and Rebecca Williams. These advocates were nominated for this award because of their work to increase LGBTQ visibility in our state.

    Garden State Equality would like to extend our most sincere gratitude to Governor Murphy and the first lady for hosting such a wonderful and important event. New Jersey is proud to have a governor who celebrates the LGBTQ community and believes in true equality.

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  • GSE Stands With Immigrants and Families

    Garden State Equality stands in solidarity with all immigrants and their families, and against the Trump administration’s action of tearing children from their parents and prosecuting asylum seekers. The LGBT movement has long held that families belong together, and we know all too well that the demonization of one group of marginalized people leads quickly to the demonization of all. Dehumanizing immigrants as “animals” and speaking of them as “infesting our country” reminds us of the demonization of LGBT people as a “contagion”, as vectors for disease, etc.

    While Garden State Equality stands with all immigrants regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, we also know that many immigrants and asylum seekers are also LGBT people, and seek asylum on that very basis. This administration’s blanket policy denying asylum to victims of domestic and gang violence leaves LGBT asylum seekers at great risk. The administration should get no credit for an executive order that does not even fix a problem of the administration’s own making. At Garden State Equality we really do care.

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    Governor Murphy signed the signature "Birth Certificate Bill," now known as the "Babs Siperstein Law." After being vetoed by Governor Christie two times. This has been years in the making!

    Garden State Equality's Director of Programs Aaron Potenza, who worked behind the scenes to draft the bill, is thrilled. "New Jersey has finally removed the outdated, invasive, and overly burdensome proof of surgery requirement. Furthermore, we have created a path for people who identify outside the binary to access accurate documents. I am proud to have worked with the National Center for Transgender Equality, with activists like Babs Siperstein, and with our allies in the legislature to modernize the process for changing gender markers on New Jersey birth certificates."

    This is a tremendous step forward for transgender New Jerseyans that will allow them to access identity documents that match their lived experiences. The signing of this bill means New Jersey will become a national leader by joining 16 states that allow transgender residents to change their gender marker without proof of surgery. New Jersey will become the fourth state to offer a third gender option on birth certificates, following California, Oregon, and Washington.

    "I am immensely proud of Governor Murphy for not only standing with our community, but also seeing that equality reaches everyone in New Jersey. Transgender people have long stood in solidarity with LGB people and here at Garden State Equality we make sure nobody is left behind", said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality.

    Governor Murphy also signed bills allowing gender identity to be reflected on death certificates and establishing a Transgender Task Force. The Task Force will advance equality in New Jersey by allowing government officials, experts in law, policy, and medicine, and community leaders and advocates to come together to study and address issues that impact transgender people throughout our society.

    Garden State Equality would like to thank sponsors Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Senator Joe Vitale, and Senator Loretta Weinberg.

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  • Equality license plates in New Jersey! Provide feedback on the design for Garden State Equality's new plates!

    Garden State Equality will soon join other organizations and causes on the roads of New Jersey!

    Recently, thanks to our allies in the New Jersey legislature, Garden State Equality was approved to have a specialty plate through the Motor Vehicle Commission. Similar to other charities in this program, proceeds from these plates will benefit our education work.

    But, before you choose to have our logo don your car's license plate, we are seeking feedback on design!

    Please fill out this survey to provide your feedback >

    Your opinion is critical in helping us decide what to submit to the MVC for approval.

    Thank you for being a member of Garden State Equality and helping us with this process!

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    ASBURY PARK - Garden State Equality (GSE), New Jersey’s largest LGBT advocacy and education organization, today announced its endorsements for the May non-partisan municipal elections taking place in New Jersey.

    The candidates receiving endorsements from GSE are:

    Czezre Adams for Newark City Council;
    Ras Baraka for Mayor of Newark;
    Reed Gusciora for Mayor of Trenton;
    Alexandra Harwin for Ridgewood Village Council;
    Elvin Montero for Trenton City Council; and
    Jason O'Donnell for Mayor of Bayonne.

    Each of these candidates has a clear and defined history of working with and supporting issues of importance to the LGBT community. Whether it be marriage equality, anti-bullying laws, flying the pride flag, or engaging in proactive discussions on how to best achieve true equality and fairness for the LGBT community, these individuals have shown they are committed to the cause of LGBT rights.

    “We carefully selected the candidates that we feel will uphold the goals and ideals we fight for every day,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “We are proud to support them and look forward to working with them toward a more equal New Jersey.”

    Various municipalities across the state of New Jersey will hold their non-partisan elections on May 8.


    GSE is New Jersey’s statewide advocacy and education organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

    GSE, in collaboration with community partners, led efforts to ensure nondiscrimination for transgender and gender nonconforming people in NJ, passed the most comprehensive anti-bullying law in the country, ended sexual orientation and gender identity/expression change efforts in NJ (sometimes called conversion therapy), and brought marriage equality to the Garden State.

    In this post-marriage environment, GSE’s main focuses are youth, transgender people, and seniors, and the organization’s work on those issues is informed by racial, economic, and disability justice concerns. GSE is working on campaigns to address safe environments for youth, improvement of health services that meet LGBT community needs, and respectful treatment of seniors. Beyond that, GSE supports NJ’s activist community by bringing an LGBT lens to the shared struggle for justice.

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  • Knock Out Bullying

    Garden State Equality’s Teach and Affirm Program held its 1st Annual Art Contest for students in 6th-8th grades. Now we need your vote! We selected the top 10 from over 120 incredible submissions! Thank you to all who participated, we were very impressed by all the designs.

    1st place winners:
    Artwork will be printed on a “Knockout Bullying” boxing glove and sold at Beachbox in Asbury Park and on GSE’s website
    An article in our local press discussing the artist and school’s work
    Artwork will be displayed at GSE offices & BeachBox in Asbury Park
    $100 worth of Toys R Us art supplies

    2nd place winners:
    Artwork will be displayed at GSE and BeachBox in Asbury Park.
    $50 worth of Toys R Us art supplies

    3rd place winners:
    Artwork will be displayed at GSE and BeachBox in Asbury Park.
    $25 worth of Toys R Us art supplies

    “Knockout Bullying” Awards Event will be held on Saturday June 16th from 11:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m at BeachBox: 1317 Memorial Drive, Asbury Park, NJ 07712. Winners, their families, and school representatives/host teachers will be invited to attend the event hosted by GSE and BeachBox! Everyone in attendance will receive brunch, winners will receive their prizes and participate an interactive activity! Wear something comfortable!

    To vote for your favorite submission, CLICK HERE

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  • An important update about our Health & Wellness work

    Bianca Mayes began working as our Health and Wellness Coordinator last fall, and she jumped right into developing a program to better address the unique needs of LGBT older adults. Since rolling out the program in January, Bianca has trained more than 100 healthcare professionals throughout New Jersey!

    With over 100,000 LGBT New Jerseyans over the age of 55, there is a lot of work to be done, but we are making progress.

    Over the next few weeks, Bianca will continue to offer our Bronze, Silver, and Gold level Pledge & Protect trainings to providers throughout our state. And, this summer we plan to host 10 focus groups serving all 21 counties to help produce a statewide needs assessment. 

    There are a lot of ways to get involved with this work, below are some upcoming events:

    LGBT Senior Housing and Care Expo in partnership with Green Hill Retirement Community:

    Focus groups in partnership with Monmouth University:

    GSE’s Pledge & Protect program is for all healthcare providers including:nurse practitioners, doctors, therapists, dentists, and other direct-service providers. If you are a healthcare or housing professional and are interested in learning more about our programs, please check out the attached flyer on our Pledge and Protect program, and reach out to us at:


    This progress wouldn't be possible without the support of our dedicated members and community partners.


    Bianca Mayes
    Health and Wellness Coordinator
    Garden State Equality

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    Chris Donnelly To Serve As New GSE Action Fund Chair

    Asbury Park - Luanne Peterpaul, one of the state’s champions for LGBT rights and equality, is moving on from her position as Chair of Garden State Equality’s (GSE) Action Fund. Peterpaul has served as a board member and chair for 12 years. Luanne has proven to be a fundamental partner of Garden State Equality. In her 12 year run, she has been a fearless leader, a compassionate advocate, and a dedicated supporter, having made immeasurable contributions to several of the organization’s efforts.

    “Garden State Equality has evolved from a single mission organization - Marriage Equality - an important one at that - to an organization that makes an impact on the lives of the LGBT community and its allies every single day,” Said Peterpaul. “I am confident that with GSE’s executive director, staff and board members, GSE will continue the great work being accomplished. We all must be mindful that we can't continue to make strides forward and justice will not be served until, as Benjamin Franklin said, ‘those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.’”

    Peterpaul has played an influential role in most, if not all, of the over 250 laws and local ordinances passed with the guidance of Garden State Equality. She was one of the pioneers in the fight for equality, while also advocating for greater emphasis on educating our youth on diversity, equality and respect for their peers.

    One of her most notable accomplishments is co-authoring the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which sailed through both the State Assembly and Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Christie in January 2011. She was also the recipient of last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the LGBT Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

    “I couldn’t be more grateful for the time and dedication that Luanne has put into this organization,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “She has taught and will continue to teach me so many valuable lessons that I apply to my work every day. She will be missed on our Board, but I know she will never stop being a loyal partner of Garden State Equality.”

    Outside of Garden State Equality, Peterpaul is a partner and principal at Peterpaul Law, LLP located in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Her practice involves the handling of complex litigation including employment law, business litigation and school law issues. She is admitted to practice before the state and federal courts of New Jersey, and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Chris Donnelly, who currently sits on Garden State Equality’s Action Fund Executive

    Committee, will step into Peterpaul’s position as Chair. Donnelly offers a background in LGBT advocacy, having served as the communications director for New Jersey United For Marriage, a grassroots campaign to bring marriage equality to New Jersey.

    “It will not be easy following the incredible legacy Luanne is leaving behind,” said Donnelly. “She has been a mentor to me, but more importantly, a great friend. I look forward to continuing the great work she, Christian, and Garden State Equality have performed over the years. Whether it is combating rampant homelessness and addiction among LGBT youth, ensuring greater
    understanding of our LGBT brothers and sisters, or doing away with outdated laws that ingrain bias, there are still battles to be won in the fight for true LGBT equality in our state and in our Nation.”

    Donnelly is currently a Principal for Kivvit, an organization that focuses on public affairs and communications strategies for their clients. Prior to joining Kivvit, Donnelly served as Press Secretary to State Senate President Steve Sweeney. He has also worked in the administrations of three New Jersey governors and served as communications director for the 2010 reelection campaign of Congressman Rush Holt.


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  • Garden State Equality and ACLU-NJ to Students: We have your backs

    Two of NJ’s leading rights organizations want NJ young people to know they’re here to help

    In the wake of widespread student activism following the massacre in Parkland, Florida, Garden State Equality and the ACLU of New Jersey have come together to send a message to students: we have your back and we’re here for you.

    "The tide has finally turned and the voices of students are carrying the waves of justice throughout our nation," Said Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino. "I want every young person to know that all throughout history, change has come from those who are brave enough to stand tall regardless of those telling them to stand down. In New Jersey, my wish is that every student feels confident knowing that ACLU of New Jersey and Garden State Equality, two of New Jersey’s largest social justice organizations, have your back. As leaders of social movements, we are coming together to provide resources that highlight your rights as students."

    The ACLU-NJ and GSE reiterate the students holding demonstrations at school, including walkouts, have rights. The ACLU-NJ offers basic guidelines to students online, and a few key points in brief:

    • Even for activities like walkouts that fall outside the boundaries of school rules, students can’t be punished extra harshly or disproportionately.
    • Schools can’t block the doors to stop a walkout.
    • Schools can’t stop kids from talking about political topics for being too controversial.

    On Thursday, March 8, at 8 p.m., the ACLU is holding a nationwide webinar for students to understand their speech rights.

    “It’s heartening and important for young New Jerseyans to make their voices heard. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always without consequence, but we hope to serve as a resource on what schools can do, what they can’t do, and what they should do,” said ACLU-NJ Deputy Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero. “You are the ones who will inherit the duty of keeping liberty strong for the next generations, and we hope school administrators will embrace the spirit of civic engagement.”

    Your rights in schools:

    Students should contact Garden State Equality at or (973)509-5428 or the ACLU of New Jersey through their intake form if their rights are endangered.

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