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  • Community Leaders and Organizations Call on Hackensack BOE Trustee to Resign Immediately for Anti-LGBTQ Remarks

    NJEA, ACLU of New Jersey, and Garden State Equality Universally Condemn Trustee's Bigoted Comments

    Hackensack, NJ — Today, a diverse group of community and faith leaders, local community groups, and statewide organizations issued an open letter calling on the Hackensack City Council and Mayor to pass a resolution urging Board of Education Trustee Frances Cogelja to resign at tomorrow’s City Council Meeting, set to begin at 8PM at Hackensack City Hall.

    Trustee Cogelja has received widespread criticism because of bigoted comments calling New Jersey’s LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law “repugnant.” Garden State Equality is mobilizing its local membership to attend tomorrow evening’s City Council meeting and urge councilors to approve the resolution.

    The open letter’s issuance follows strong condemnation from local elected officials representing Bergen County, including County Executive Jim Tedesco, Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle—who was the primary sponsor and author of the bill—have all called for her immediate resignation.

    Additionally, Governor Phil Murphy, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez have all condemned Trustee Cogelja’s comments.

    The text of the open letter is included below.

    — — —

    Monday, June 24, 2019

    An open letter to Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse, Hackensack Deputy Mayors Kathleen Canestrino and David Sims, Hackensack Councilmembers Leo Battaglia and Stephanie Von Rudenborg, and the Hackensack Board of Education.

    RE: Condemnation of Anti-LGBTQ emails from Hackensack BOE Trustee Frances Cogelja

    We, the undersigned faith leaders, community organizations, and individuals representing the rich diversity of Hackensack, stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ community and strongly condemn the homophobic comments made by Hackensack Board of Education Trustee Frances Cogelja. She is unfit to serve her constituents, faithfully implement New Jersey’s LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum Law, or protect LGBTQ-identified students. We are urging you to pass a resolution calling for her resignation.

    In her emails to the Acting Superintendent of Hackensack Public Schools earlier this year regarding the implementation of New Jersey’s law requiring the inclusion of LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum in middle and high schools, Trustee Cogelja called the law “repugnant” and expressed great disdain for LGBTQ people along with their contributions to our society.

    Our city, county, and state have long-served as leaders for compassion, diversity, and inclusion. Her comments do not represent our community and stand in contrast to our values.

    Based on the gravity of her comments—which were condemned by Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Bob Menendez, Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblywoman Valerie Vaneri Huttle, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, and The Star-Ledger Editorial Board—Trustee Cogelja can no longer effectively represent the students, parents, and educators she was elected to serve.

    Furthermore, as evidenced by the more than 1,000 individuals who attended and spoke at the Board of Education meeting on June 17 and/or signed a petition calling for her resignation, the community has justifiably lost confidence in her ability to perform her duties as a Trustee of the Hackensack Board of Education in an unbiased way.

    Hackensack’s students and school staff deserve Trustees who uphold the dignity of the office and possess an understanding that every person deserves to be treated with respect, regardless of their race, creed, ethnicity, national origin, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

    Mrs. Cogelja’s disparaging comments and personal views defy her oath of office and threaten the credibility of the Hackensack Board of Education as a whole. Silence on this issue sends a message to our students, educators, and the community at large that they, too, can engage in homophobic and discriminatory behavior without consequence.

    It is our hope that the public outrage surrounding Mrs. Cogelja’s comments can start a real conversation about how we can better promote inclusion and equality in Hackensack. To this end, we urge you to call for the immediate resignation of Frances Cogelja from the Hackensack Board of Education and to issue an official statement of condemnation.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    The undersigned,

    Rev. Carolyn Davis, Hackensack
    Former Assemblyman Tim Eustace
    Rev. Nathan S. Busker, Senior Pastor, Ponds Reformed Church, Oakland
    Minister David M. Horst, Central Unitarian Church, Paramus
    Anthony Torres, Central Unitarian Church, Paramus
    Ray Welsh, Manager, Buddies of NJ, Inc.

    ACLU of New Jersey
    ActivateNJ
    Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice
    For Hackensack’s Future
    Garden State Equality
    Glen Rock After the March
    Indivisible NJ 5th District
    Mahwah After the March
    NAACP (Bergen County Chapter)
    New Jersey Citizen Action
    New Jersey Education Association
    Ridgewood JOLT (Join Organize Lead Teach)
    Teaneck Women Together
    The WorkGroup of Hackensack
    Waldwick Progressives
    Women for Progress

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  • Aaron Potenza, Director of Policy, to Depart from Garden State Equality

    Garden State Equality welcomes Alisha DeLorenzo as Interim Deputy Director

    Asbury Park, NJ — Garden State Equality is announcing today that Aaron Potenza will be stepping down from his role as Director of Policy on Friday, June 21, 2019. Later this summer, Potenza will begin a new professional opportunity serving as the Special Initiatives Program Manager for The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA).

    Potenza, who currently chairs New Jersey’s Transgender Equality Task Force (www.TransEqualityNJ.com), will remain a member of the Garden State Equality family and continue to serve in his capacity as chair and Garden State Equality’s representative until the Task Force concludes its mission in September 2019.

    “Serving New Jersey’s LGBTQ community at Garden State Equality has been an honor, and a time of tremendous professional growth,” said Aaron Potenza, Director of Policy for Garden State Equality. “As a member of NJCASA’s robust policy team, I’ll be focused on issue-based, data-driven research that directly impacts the LGBTQ community alongside strategic planning around political and policy issues. Nothing could have better prepared me for this next professional challenge than my time working with Garden State Equality.”

    “It is a bittersweet moment for all of us at Garden State Equality to part with Aaron as he pursues the next chapter in his professional career, but he will always be a member of our family,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director for Garden State Equality. “From the Babs Siperstein Law to transgender student guidance to transition-related care, Aaron has been a pioneer for LGBTQ equality in New Jersey, and his mark will be felt for years to come. We are fortunate that we will continue partnering together through the Transgender Equality Task Force and NJCASA’s intersectional work.”

    Potenza first joined Garden State Equality in May 2015 as its Anti-Bullying Organizer, overseeing advocacy and policy work serving New Jersey’s public schools. Shortly after, he was promoted to Director of Programs, where he built out the three pillars of Garden State Equality’s community programs for building safe and LGBTQ-inclusive schools (Teach & Affirm), expanding access to LGBTQ-affirming healthcare (Map & Expand), and protecting LGBTQ older adults (Pledge & Protect). Alongside Fuscarino, Potenza led many of Garden State Equality’s transformative legislative and policy victories including:

    • Ensuring transition-related care is covered under health plans sold in New Jersey;
    • Passing The Babs Siperstein Law, which removed the outdated “proof of surgery” requirement for gender marker amendments to birth certificates and created a third gender option for non-binary New Jerseyans;
    • Ensuring dignity in death by adding gender identity to death certificates;
    • Developing and implementing New Jersey’s statewide transgender student guidance;
    • Passing New Jersey’s LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum Law—the second law of its kind in the nation and the first-in-the-nation to be interdisciplinary;
    • And establishing the first statewide interagency Transgender Equality Task Force in the nation, which he chairs, to assess the legal and societal barriers to transgender equality and provide recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on how to ensure equality and improve the lives of transgender people.

    As Special Initiatives Program Manager, Potenza will have the opportunity to serve as part of NJCASA’s robust policy team to review draft legislation, write responses, and liaison with policy makers. He will additionally conduct assessments, data analysis, and reports about sexual violence prevention and direct service strategies as well as leading community engagement strategies, including outreach and support to the LGBTQ community.

    “The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault is proud to be adding Aaron Potenza to our team. We have greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with Aaron and his colleagues at Garden State Equality as our organizations have worked at the intersections of oppression. We look forward to continuing our allied organizational work and feel confident that Aaron will be a strong addition to our already impactful team of dedicated professionals working to reduce the impact and prevalence of sexual violence in New Jersey and beyond,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of NJCASA.

    NJCASA provides a statewide voice for survivors of sexual violence and the 21 county-based sexual violence programs (plus the Rutgers University Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance – New Brunswick) that serve them. NJCASA advocates for survivor-centered policies and legislation, trains and educates for sexual violence service professionals and allied professionals, and develops prevention strategies to address and reduce the root causes of sexual violence.

    Beginning Monday, July 1, Garden State Equality will be bringing on Alisha DeLorenzo as Interim Deputy Director to oversee Garden State Equality’s programs, development, and policy. DeLorenzo has deep roots in the public education system for over 15 years as a teacher, Student Assistance Counselor, and the first Social Emotional Learning Coordinator in the state. In addition, as a Licensed Professional Counselor, trained in an Integrative Mental Health model, Alisha specializes in working with LGBTQ clients and families as well as specializing in trauma, grief, anxiety and depression. She has been recognized state-wide for her leadership and the transformative work she brings to communities. Her work in the realm of social justice and equity dates back to 2004 with the National Non-Profit, American Conference on Diversity.

    On Friday, June 21 at 5:00 pm, Garden State Equality will be hosting a Reception in Appreciation of Aaron Potenza at Watermark in Asbury Park to honor his contributions over the last several years. The event will be open to members of Garden State Equality along with colleagues and friends of Potenza.

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  • Update on Pride Mural at the Bergen Charter School

    Last month, you may have heard that a student’s LGBTQ pride mural was painted over at Bergen Arts & Science Charter School (BASCS) after the school’s landlord, a Catholic church, urged the school to remove it.

    Garden State Equality immediately took action to ensure LGBTQ student voices were affirmed and that our LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law would be protected when it goes into effect in the fall of 2020, and on Friday last week, I met with administrators, educators, and students at the school and facilitated a restorative practice dialogue. As a group, we collaboratively developed several constructive solutions to ensure those goals.

    The school will be taking several actions, but most significantly, I’m proud to tell you that BASCS will be one of roughly a dozen schools where Garden State Equality will be test-piloting LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, which we are actively developing, a year before the law goes into effect.

    I’d also like to say thank you to Breanna and Mila, the students who painted the mural, for speaking out against this injustice and creating real, lasting change for their school.

    Will you chip in $10 right now to help fund our inclusive curriculum development so we can bring LGBTQ representation to New Jersey schools? Click here to contribute.

    One of Garden State Equality’s top priorities is ensuring that LGBTQ students feel safe, affirmed, and supported, and to the school’s credit, the administration unequivocally embraced the positive and constructive solutions proposed by students and educators during our dialogue. That wouldn’t have happened without the voices of Breanna and Mila in the room.

    New Jersey’s LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law is going to be a life-changing experience for our youth by ensuring the political, social, and economic contributions of our community are represented in classrooms, and we are committed to building robust and comprehensive curriculum that lifts up and inspires the next generation.

    With the current law, local school boards are required to develop and implement the curriculum, which is a costly and burdensome task, but once we finish developing and test-piloting the curriculum, we will be offering it to every school district in New Jersey for free. We’ll also be providing “curriculum coaches” to train educators and ensure it is successfully implemented.

    Thank you for helping us continue to build safe schools all across New Jersey. Our youth are depending on us, and we can only do this work because of your support.

    Ashley Chiappano
    Safe Schools & Community Education Manager
    Garden State Equality

    PS — Garden State Equality is currently hiring a Safe Schools Coordinator and four curriculum writers. Please visit our website to learn more and apply: www.GardenStateEquality.org/employment

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  • Garden State Equality and Bergen Arts & Science Charter School to Test-Pilot LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum in Fall 2019

    Hackensack, NJ — Garden State Equality and Bergen Arts & Science Charter School (BASCS) are proud to announce that BASCS will be one of roughly a dozen New Jersey public schools that will test-pilot an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum this fall.

    Last month, a student-created mural, created as part of a BASCS art project and intended to express LGBTQ pride, caught Garden State Equality’s eye and garnered national attention when the school’s landlord, Holy Trinity Church of Hackensack, asked that the mural to be removed. As a result, representatives of Garden State Equality met with BASCS students, educators, and administrators last week for a “restorative practice dialogue.” The dialogue aired the issues and concluded with a commitment by BASCS to take several constructive actions, including its implementation of an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum next school year, a year before New Jersey’s law requiring such curriculum goes into effect.

    “New Jersey public charter schools often have no other facilities option besides locating their schools in former parochial school buildings, and we are committed to working together with public charter schools to help them navigate these matters in a way that supports all of their students. Garden State Equality’s top priority is ensuring that LGBTQ students feel safe, affirmed, and supported, and to the school’s credit, the administration unequivocally embraced the positive and constructive solutions proposed by students and educators during our dialogue,” said Ashley Chiappano, Safe Schools & Community Education Manager for Garden State Equality. “We are proud to partner with Bergen Arts & Science Charter School to roll out our LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum test-pilot program later this year to ensure the political, social, and economic contributions of LGBTQ people are represented in classrooms.”

    For its part, BASCS “is happy to participate in the test-pilot program and to be a leader in developing LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum” said the school’s Lead Person, Nihat Guvercin. He added, “BASCS is committed to affirming LGBTQ student voices and successfully implementing LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum. For years, BASCS has successfully operated its school in a church building, complying with the requirements of its lease while also respecting the rights of its students. BASCS and the entire iLearn Schools network have proactively built school environments that uplift and give voice to diversity. The curriculum test-pilot will be an opportunity for us to become a leader in this work, to create a model for other public schools. We’re proud to participate with Garden State Equality to do that.”

    “I am so happy real initiatives will be taking place at Bergen Arts & Science Charter School to affirm LGBTQ students, and I will be doing everything in my power to work with my peers, educators, and the administration to ensure our goals are implemented with a fair outcome,” said Breanna, a sixteen year old junior at BASCS who painted the mural. She will be a senior at BASCS when school resumes in the fall. “There is still so much work to do on behalf of LGBTQ youth and students, and by building a safe and inclusive environment at our school, I am optimistic that no other student will ever have to go through a similar experience again.”

    Breanna has been offered—and accepted—a summer internship with Garden State Equality for its Teach & Affirm program, which works to build safe schools for LGBTQ students across New Jersey.

    In addition to the school’s participation in the test-pilot curriculum program, BASCS and Garden State Equality agreed to other deliverables:
    • They will reconvene in the fall of 2019 and extend an invitation to the Archdiocese of Newark and the school’s landlord, Holy Trinity Church of Hackensack to participate. Conversations will continue through the summer. The school has agreed to foster communication between administration, faculty, and students on issues related to speech and inclusivity.
    • In August, when teachers return to school, Garden State Equality will provide professional development training to BASCS faculty on LGBTQ issues and cultural competency and the newly adopted New Jersey state law requiring the LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum, which will go into effect in the 2020-2021 school year for all New Jersey public schools, including public charter schools, as well as the Law Against Discrimination, the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, and the Department of Education’s transgender student guidance.
    The LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law passed the New Jersey State Legislature last year and was signed by Governor Phil Murphy on January 31, 2019. New Jersey was the second state in the nation to pass an LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law and the first state in the nation to pass a curriculum law to reach beyond social studies and incorporate LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum as an interdisciplinary approach across all relevant subjects.

    The New Jersey Department of Education will issue broad guidelines before the law’s implementation, but ultimately, local school boards are charged with developing and implementing the curriculum—a costly and burdensome task. Following the test-pilot program Garden State Equality’s curriculum will be offered to local school boards and districts at no cost. “Curriculum coaches” will be available to schools as well.

    Governor Phil Murphy acknowledged Garden State Equality’s proactive work to create LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum during his speech at Garden State Equality’s Equality Ball on Friday, May 31, and Garden State Equality is in discussions with New Jersey’s Department of Education to partner on developing state guidelines. “I applaud Garden State Equality for not only leading this effort, but for your continued work in helping to craft this curriculum,” said Governor Phil Murphy at Garden State Equality’s Equality Ball.

    Garden State Equality is partnering with Make It Better for Youth (www.makeitbetter4youth.org) to develop robust LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum that New Jersey public schools can implement. Garden State Equality will receive $185,000 in grant funding from the Braitmayer Foundation and PSEG Foundation over the next two years to develop LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum and hire curriculum writers, for which job postings were made available on Monday, June 3 (www.gardenstateequality.org/employment). Garden State Equality will be test-piloting this curriculum in roughly a dozen New Jersey public schools for the 2019-2020 school year. The schools will represent geographic, economic, and racial diversity across New Jersey. Garden State Equality is finalizing a partnership with a New Jersey public university to conduct IRB-approved student and faculty surveys that will take place at the beginning and conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year to measure the efficacy of the curriculum as it relates to improving schools’ LGBTQ-affirming culture and climate. Additionally, Garden State Equality will be providing “curriculum coaches” at no cost to each individual test-pilot school to train and educate schools’ educators on how to effectively and successfully implement the curriculum.

    As more states look to New Jersey for ideas on how to innovative on LGBTQ equality through policy and programs, Garden State Equality intends to provide its curriculum to other states that implement similar laws.

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  • Garden State Equality Condemns Erasure of Student’s LGBTQ Pride Mural in Hackensack Public School Over Church Objections

    Church has extended history of censoring curriculum and student speech on LGBTQ Issues within the school

    This week, an LGBTQ pride mural created by a student at Bergen Arts & Science Charter School (BASCS) was painted over following complaints by the school’s landlord, Holy Trinity Church, who called the rainbow heart “offensive”. BASCS is a public school that is privately run as a charter school.

    Garden State Equality was informed by the student, a sixteen year old high school junior at BASCS, that the school has a long history of restricting education and censoring faculty and students’ speech within the school.

    Following complaints by the landlord in 2018, the school abolished a long-running daily educational program, which taught students about a unique historical figure each day, after the school included LGBTQ figures during Pride Month. Additionally, the school’s psychologist was forced to remove a poster supportive of LGBTQ students. The poster was signed by faculty and students and merely declared the office a “safe space” for LGBTQ students to enter for support.

    New Jersey’s LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum Law, passed in January 2019, will take effect in the 2020-2021 school year, and as a public school, BASCS would be required to implement the law.

    “It is offensive, unconscionable, and flatly unconstitutional for this church acting as a for-profit landlord to restrict a public school’s curriculum or censor student speech within those walls. This type of hate-fueled bigotry is precisely why New Jersey needs LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum to promote acceptance and understanding,” said Garden State Equality executive director Christian Fuscarino. “Garden State Equality will never back down from fighting for LGBTQ youth, and we call on the Bergen Arts & Science Charter School to restore the artwork and enhance its curriculum to teach its students that hate and censorship are not welcome in New Jersey’s public schools.”

    “The school’s actions in destroying a student’s artwork is rank censorship and out of step with New Jersey values and our laws. Decades ago, the United State Supreme Court held that students ‘do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,’” said Garden State Equality board member and former state bar president Thomas Prol, Esq. “It is sadly ironic that an educational institution is now delivering a lesson in censorship to these students during their tender years.”

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  • Historic: House Passes The Equality Act!

    I am proud to share with you that the House of Representatives just voted 236-173 to pass The Equality Act!

    Today’s passage means we are now one step closer to securing historic non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans nationwide and ensuring equality under the law truly means equality for all.

    Now, The Equality Act moves on to the U.S. Senate, where we face a tough, uphill battle.

    Help us fuel the fight forward. Donate now and help us drive momentum for The Equality Act in the Senate!

    We worked hard to secure the support of every Representative in our state, and you should be proud that New Jersey’s Democratic Congressional Caucus voted unanimously to support The Equality Act in addition to sponsoring the bill. We’re especially grateful to Congressman Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02) for joining the rest of the caucus in support of equality. The only lawmaker from New Jersey who voted against our community was Republican Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04).

    As the Equality Act moves to the U.S. Senate, we will be working diligently with our national partners as well as our allies Senator Cory Booker and Senator Bob Menendez to get this critical legislation passed.

    Click here to contribute, and support our work to secure non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans nationwide.

    Thanks for helping us make this day possible. We’re moving New Jersey and the nation forward.

    Christian Fuscarino
    Executive Director
    Garden State Equality

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  • Governor Murphy orders New Jersey Army National Guard to Defy Trump’s Ban on Transgender Military Service Members

    New Jersey Becomes Sixth State to Protect Trans National Guard Members

    Today, Governor Murphy issued an order to exercise every available option of power to allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the New Jersey Army National Guard. The executive action comes in defiance of the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender service members, which took effect on April 12, 2019.

    Under previous state administrations, swift action, or any action at all, would have been unlikely without public pressure. Given the Governor’s commitment to LGBTQ equality, Garden State Equality was able to work closely with his office to develop implementation.

    New Jersey now joins five other states that have taken action: California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and New Mexico. Governors have primary control over National Guard policy for their state.

    "Since the Trump-Pence administration’s ban on transgender service members went into effect last month, this disgraceful policy is already wreaking havoc. We’ve seen college students lose their military scholarships, countless recruits be turned away, and the jobs and healthcare of nearly 15,000 active and reserve transgender service members at risk of being terminated,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director for Garden State Equality. “Governor Murphy’s bold action today to protect transgender troops serving in the New Jersey Army National Guard is a critical defense against the President’s unconstitutional and discriminatory ban, and it means brave transgender public servants can get back to work defending our nation without fear of being discharged.“

    “As I have stated before, President Trump’s policy targeting transgender individuals who wish to serve in our military is abhorrent and un-American,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “I am proud to join with Governors in sister states, including California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, in declaring firm opposition to this policy and announcing my intention to use every option available to allow transgender individuals to serve in the National Guard. Under my administration, New Jersey has joined the multi-state coalition that has urged the courts to strike down the transgender ban as unconstitutional, and we will continue to fight this bigoted policy and defend the rights of all New Jersey residents.”

    In February 2018, under the leadership of Governor Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, New Jersey also joined a coalition of states to overturn the ban with an amicus filing in federal court in the case Ryan Karnoski v. Trump. Various litigation is pending throughout the federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court is anticipated to hear a case in the coming months.

    The Trump administration’s ban affects as many as 15,000 active and reserve transgender service members across the nation. Individuals who come out—or are found out—as transgender after April 12 will be subject to discharge unless they renounce their identity. A few hundred service members who previously transitioned before the April 12 deadline are permitted to continue to serve. Under the Trump administration’s policy, no future recruits who are transgender will be permitted to enlist in the military. The policy has additionally resulted in transgender college students from losing military scholarships.

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  • Gov. Murphy to defy Trump's transgender military ban

    Just now, Governor Phil Murphy issued an order to allow transgender troops to serve openly in the New Jersey Army National Guard—exercising every available option in his power—in defiance of the Trump-Pence administration’s discriminatory ban.

    Under the previous administration, swift action—or any action at all—would have been unlikely without public pressure. Given the Governor’s commitment to LGBTQ equality, Garden State Equality was able to work closely with his office to develop implementation.

    New Jersey now joins five other states across the nation in clearly stating: this ban is discriminatory, it’s unconstitutional, and we won’t enforce it.

    This is an important step to protect dedicated public servants within our state borders, but transgender troops across the nation in other military branches are still at risk. Since the ban went into effect last month, this disgraceful policy is already wreaking havoc:

    • Trans college students are losing their military scholarships.
    • Countless trans recruits are being denied enlistment at a time when overall recruitment is down.
    • And almost 15,000 active and reserve trans service members are being forced back in the closet—at risk of losing their job and their healthcare.

    There’s numerous cases working their way through federal courts right now which will eventually get in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Fortunately, last year, under the leadership of Governor Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, New Jersey also joined a coalition of states to overturn the ban with an amicus filing in federal court.

    Governor Murphy’s bold action today to protect transgender troops serving in the New Jersey Army National Guard is a critical defense against the President’s unconstitutional and discriminatory ban, and for now, it means brave transgender service members can get back to work defending our nation without fear of being discharged.

    Help Garden State Equality continue fighting for transgender equality in New Jersey. Click here to contribute.

    We couldn’t be doing this work for transgender equality here in New Jersey without your steadfast support—and our allies in Trenton. We're making a real difference.

    Thanks for standing with us and, more importantly, with our troops.

    Christian Fuscarino
    Executive Director
    Garden State Equality

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  • LGBTQ Senior Housing & Care Expo

    Ensuring quality of life for LGBTQ older adults is critical to Garden State Equality’s mission.

    In the next decade, it’s estimated there will be more than five million Americans over the age of fifty who identify as LGBTQ, and studies show the older adult community already experiences unique challenges including isolation poverty, and significant health disparities. Worse, due to a lack of affirming services, many LGBTQ people find themselves going back into the closet.

    That’s why we launched our Pledge & Protect program: to confront these issues head-on and build a network of compassionate, inclusive services across every corner of New Jersey.

    All of our important work in this area is coming together next month in an exciting educational and professional event:

    Through our partnership with Green Hill senior living community, we’re hosting the 2nd Annual LGBTQ Senior Housing & Care Expo—bringing together LGBTQ people and service providers to build more affirming healthcare and environments for senior living.

    Click here to RSVP and join us at the LGBTQ Senior Housing & Care Expo on Sunday, May 19 in West Orange!

    Whether you are an LGBTQ older adult, a healthcare provider, or work with older adult communities, you will learn about important tools and resources to foster inclusive communities and care.

    This year’s expo includes educational seminars on:

    • Making the case for LGBTQ senior inclusion
    • Healthcare needs and partnerships
    • Environment & culture in an LGBTQ senior community
    • Cultural competency certification across channels
    • Legislative update from Garden State Equality on the NJ LGBTQ Older Adults bill

    The LGBTQ Senior Housing & Care Expo is completely free and open to the public. Additionally, a networking lunch is provided to pre-registered participants!

    Click here to RSVP for the 2nd Annual LGBTQ Senior Housing & Care Expo on May 19!

    This is just part of our work serving older adults in New Jersey—but it’s one of the most important events each year for us to bring together the community and service providers to build real, lasting change. You won’t want to miss it.

    If you want to know more, feel free to reach out. I hope to see you next month.

    Thank you,

    Bianca Mayes
    Health & Wellness Coordinator
    Garden State Equality

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  • Educators for Equality Networking Event

    One of Garden State Equality’s most exciting programs that’s truly changing the culture and climate of our schools for LGBTQ people is Educators for Equality.

    We started Educators for Equality last year after one of our supporters, Dr. Lori Burns, researched the experiences of New Jersey LGBTQ educators and shockingly discovered teachers experienced bullying and harassment at rates similar to students themselves. In response, we brought together a small group of educators to work on building LGBTQ-affirming environments in schools not just for students but for educators and faculty as well.

    Today, I’m proud to say Educators for Equality has over two-hundred members from across New Jersey who are working to build safe and inclusive schools, and I want to invite you to be a part of this growing community of LGBTQ educators and allies!

    Will you join me next Friday, May 3 in Asbury Park for an Educators for Equality Networking Event? Admission is completely free!

    Educators for Equality Networking Event
    Friday, May 3, 2019
    6:00 - 9:00 PM

    The Asbury Hotel
    210 5th Avenue
    Asbury Park, NJ 07712

    Click here to RSVP

    This will be an incredible opportunity to connect with educators from across the state—especially as we prepare to implement New Jersey’s historic LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law.

    We’ll also have guest speakers including Jan Moore and Emily Sonnessa from the awarding-winning film "Love Wins," who will share their coming out story and discuss the importance of teaching LGBTQ history.

    Thank you to the NJEA Early Career Network, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and Salt Hotels for sponsoring this event.

    I look forward to seeing you next Friday in Asbury Park!

    RSVP here: https://www.gardenstateequality.org/e4e_networking

    Thank you,

    Ashley Chiappano
    Safe Schools Coordinator
    Garden State Equality

    PS: If you can’t join us next Friday, you can stay connected with Educators for Equality and learn more about upcoming events by following us on Facebook and Instagram!

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