LATEST UPDATES

  • LGBTQ Equality At Work Symposium

    Garden State Equality to host the first annual LGBTQ Equality at Work Symposium 
    Sponsored by the FirstEnergy Foundation and Jersey Central Power & Light

    HOLMDEL, NJ - Garden State Equality (GSE) will hold the first annual LGBTQ Equality at Work Symposium to connect employees committed to diversity from companies throughout the State, with a special emphasis on LGBT-affirming practices. The event—sponsored by the FirstEnergy Foundation and Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L)—will be held on March 28, 2019, from 9:00am to 2:30pm at the Bell Works Holmdel Complex, located at 101 Crawfords Corner Rd., Holmdel, NJ 07733.

    “We’re especially excited for the Equality at Work Symposium considering it’s the first of its kind in New Jersey to have such a concentrated focus on the LGBTQ community,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of GSE. “The Equality at Work Symposium will be an incredible vehicle for changemakers in the corporate world to collaborate while hearing directly from industry leaders who’ve been driving innovative practices for diversity.”

    The Equality at Work Symposium will focus on ways to improve the knowledge and effectiveness of Employee Resource Groups, affinity groups, and diversity councils with regards to LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace. The event’s agenda will include a continental breakfast, a panel of professional speakers, Q&As, and a networking luncheon.

    The daylong event will close with keynote speaker Robyn Gigl, a partner at Gluck Walrath, LLP. Gigl is a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Committee on Minority Concerns, a trustee of the NJ State Bar Foundation, and a transgender activist. She will lead a discussion on “Observations from Both Sides of the Glass Ceiling – A Trans Woman’s Perspective” at the symposium.

    "JCP&L, along with the FirstEnergy Foundation, is pleased to support unique initiatives like the Equality at Work Symposium that create a discussion and promote diversity in the workplace," said Jim Fakult, President of JCP&L. "Our organizations are stronger and better positioned for success when we embrace employees with different backgrounds, lifestyles and perspectives on the world."

    Tickets to the Equality at Work Symposium are $75.00 each and can be purchased by clicking here.

    Continue reading
  • Historic: 222 LGBTQ civil rights laws in New Jersey

    Two hundred. Twenty. Two. Laws.

    You read that right. We’ve passed 222 civil rights laws in New Jersey protecting the LGBTQ community. And we’re not slowing down, because there’s more work to do.

    In 2019, we’re going to ban the gay and trans panic defense, work to end LGBTQ youth homelessness, fight back against Trump’s transgender military ban, and push to pass the Equality Act. And we’ll continue our existing work for the LGBTQ community to build safe schools, expand healthcare, and support older adult populations.

    We need your help. Will you donate $25 right now to help us pass more pro-equality laws in 2019?

    In the last 12 months, we passed six new pro-equality laws that make our state stronger and safer for LGBTQ people.

    Just last week alone: Governor Murphy signed the LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum bill into law—the second of its kind in the entire nation—and the historic Babs Siperstein Law went into effect, allowing transgender New Jerseyans to update their birth certificate without restrictions.

    Help us secure more pro-LGBTQ laws in New Jersey and defeat Trump’s anti-equality agenda. Will you donate right now to fund our work?

    We know this fight means just as much to you as it does to us, and that’s why we need your help. We never would have made this much historic progress without you.

    www.GardenStateEquality.org/222

    Thanks for all you do.

    Garden State Equality

    Continue reading
  • Garden State Equality mourns the loss of transgender activist and icon Barbra “Babs” Siperstein

    Garden State Equality mourns the loss of transgender activist and icon Barbra “Babs” Siperstein—namesake of New Jersey’s historic birth certificate law

    ASBURY PARK, NJ - Tonight, Garden State Equality has learned of the passing of transgender activist and icon Barbra “Babs” Casbar Siperstein.

    Barbra, a Jersey City native, passed away at the age of 76 on Sunday evening at RWJBarnabas Health in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She was surrounded by family, friends, and her loving partner and companion Dorothy.

    “Babs was a towering figure in the LGBTQ community who worked tirelessly to advance the rights of transgender people over the last two decades. She was an architect of our movement, pioneering critical civil rights legislation here in New Jersey and, as the first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee, throughout our nation. With Babs, we had an LGBTQ icon—among the likes of Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, and Bayard Rustin—born and raised right here in the Garden State. With the Babs Siperstein Law in effect now, every transgender New Jerseyan who updates their birth certificate will be reminded of Babs and her courage. Babs’ work has touched countless lives and will continue to do so, and we will ensure her legacy is remembered for generations to come,” said Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino.

    “Babs— like no other—was instrumental in passing many of the 200+ LGBTQ civil rights laws and policies that Garden State Equality has secured in its fifteen year history. This is a tremendous loss for our community, and she will be sorely missed. Since the nascent days of Garden State Equality, Babs pushed us all to embrace an unmitigated pro-equality campaign that left no member of our community behind. Babs was truly unmatched and taught us all to never back down,” said Tom Prol, a longtime board member of Garden State Equality.

    Barbra’s passing comes just two days after the Babs Siperstein Law—New Jersey’s historic birth certificate law bearing her name—went into effect. The Babs Siperstein Law streamlines the process for New Jerseyans to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, removing the outdated, burdensome, and invasive “proof of surgery” requirement; adding a third gender option (“X” for non-binary/undesignated); and removing the provider certification (e.g. - letter from a therapist) and replacing it with Self Attestation.

    In 2009, Barbra became the first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee, where she was appointed by then-chairman Tim Kaine. She was appointed to the Democratic National Committee's Executive Committee in 2011, where she served until October 2017.

    After coming out in 2000, Barbra was a longtime activist for LGBTQ equality in New Jersey who served as an original board member for Garden State Equality. Most notably, over the course of her advocacy in New Jersey, Barbra helped advocate for marriage equality, transgender inclusive nondiscrimination protections, and most recently the Babs Siperstein Law.

    Babs was an Army veteran, small business owner, and parent of three.

    On behalf of our board, staff, and membership, Garden State Equality extends our deepest sympathies to Barbra’s family, and we are eternally grateful for her contributions to our organization, the state of New Jersey, and LGBTQ people across our nation.

    Continue reading
  • New Jersey Transgender Birth Certificate Law Takes Effect Today

    Garden State Equality celebrates historic Babs Siperstein Law, which removes birth certificate restrictions for transgender and non-binary New Jerseyans

    ASBURY PARK, NJ - Beginning today, the “Babs Siperstein Law” will go into effect, allowing transgender and non-binary New Jerseyans to update their birth certificate to match their gender identity without invasive, outdated, or burdensome “proof of surgery” restrictions.

    "The Babs Siperstein law is a historic, life-changing moment for transgender New Jerseyans,” said Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino. “New Jersey has always been a leader for LGBTQ equality, and this law moves us one step further in bringing dignity, respect, and affirmation to every transgender person in our state. I’m grateful to Governor Murphy and our lawmakers—both Republicans and Democrats—for ensuring that equality reaches everyone in New Jersey.”

    The Babs Siperstein Law, named for New Jersey transgender activist Barbra “Babs” Siperstein and advocated for by Garden State Equality, was signed into law by Governor Philip Murphy on July 3, 2018.

    The law streamlines the process for New Jerseyans to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, removing the outdated, burdensome, and invasive “proof of surgery” requirement; adding a third gender option (“X” for non-binary/undesignated); and removing the provider certification (e.g. - letter from a therapist) and replacing it with Self Attestation. This allows many in our state, including transgender, intersex, and non-binary people, to have full recognition in New Jersey.

    “With the previous law, it was invasive and burdensome. You shouldn’t have to produce medical records. You shouldn’t have to say, ‘I had this surgery’ to have your identity affirmed,” said Garden State Equality Director of Policy Aaron Potenza. “Most people walk through life without their gender identity ever questioned, but when you’re forced to show your documents and they don’t reflect who you are, that incongruence invites discrimination.”

    Transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Jerseyans need access to identity documents that accurately reflect the gender they live everyday, which is not necessarily the gender they were assigned at birth. We all use identity documents for important tasks such as enrolling ourselves or our children in school and college, applying for a job, opening a bank account, and applying for an apartment or mortgage. At other times we are compelled to show our identity documents, such as at a routine traffic stop. Having documentation that matches one’s gender is vitally important, as mismatches between a person’s gender identity and their identity documents can and does result in discrimination and harassment.

    The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey showed that almost one third (32%) of transgender people who have shown ID’s that do not match their gender presentation had negative experiences, including verbal harassment (25%), denial of services or benefits (16%), being asked to leave (9%), and being assaulted or attacked (2%). This law will allow transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Jerseyans to access identity documents that match their lived experience, which is truly life saving.

    New Jersey now joins 15 other states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. in expanding dignity and equality to transgender people by removing “proof of surgery” requirements and becomes the 4th state to add a non-binary designation.

    For Garden State Equality’s FAQ guide on the Babs Siperstein Law and procedures for updating one’s birth certificate, please visit: https://www.gardenstateequality.org/faq

    Continue reading
  • LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum Legislation

    Governor Phil Murphy Signs LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum Legislation—Second in the Nation

    BOEs required to include and adopt instructional materials that accurately portray persons with disabilities and LGBTQ individuals.


    ASBURY PARK, NJ - Today, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a law requiring Boards of Education to include instruction, and adopt instructional materials, that accurately portray political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

    This law would require that LGBTQ Americans, as well as Americans with disabilities, are included and recognized for their significant historic contributions to the economic, political, and social development of New Jersey and the United States. Specifically, this legislation would add LGBTQ people and individuals with disabilities to the existing list of underrepresented cultural and ethnic groups, which are covered by current law related to inclusion in textbooks and other instructional materials in schools.

    “It’s critical that our classrooms highlight the achievements of LGBTQ people throughout history. Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is—and how they can be a part of it one day, too,” said Executive Director of Garden State Equality Christian Fuscarino. “I’m thankful to Governor Murphy for making New Jersey the second state in the nation to have a law promoting LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum.”

    This law would bring classroom materials into alignment with Core Curriculum Content Standards by ensuring that students receive diverse instruction in history and the social sciences, which will cultivate respect towards minority groups, allow students to appreciate differences, and acquire the skills and knowledge needed to function effectively with people of various backgrounds.

    “As a former educator and someone who did their doctoral work in the history of sexuality, this bill is particularly close to my heart,” said Policy Director of Garden State Equality Aaron Potenza. “I know the importance of this history to American history as well as the impact of representation for LGBTQ identified students.”

    Garden State Equality gives thanks to coalition partners: GLSEN Central NJ, Shore Area NOW, Make it Better for Youth, and the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice for their work and collaboration on making this bill become reality. The organization gives additional thanks to the bill’s prime sponsors, Senators Loretta Weinberg, Teresa Ruiz, Assemblypersons Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Mila Jasey, Joann Downey, and former Assemblypersons Reed Gusciora and Tim Eustace.

    For more information on the Assembly Bill A1335, visit GLSEN Central New Jersey’s A1335 Fact Sheet.

    Continue reading
  • Guide to the Babs Siperstein Law: Frequently Asked Questions

    This page was last updated February 1, 2019 at 12:10pm.

    What is the Babs Siperstein Law?

    The Babs Siperstein Law, named for New Jersey transgender activist Barbra “Babs” Siperstein, was signed into law by Governor Philip Murphy. The law goes into effect February 1, 2019.

    The law streamlines the process for New Jerseyans to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, removing the outdated, burdensome, and invasive “proof of surgery” requirement; adding a third gender option (“X” for non-binary/undesignated); and removing the provider certification (e.g. - letter from a therapist) and replacing it with Self Attestation.

    This allows many in our state, including transgender, intersex, and non-binary people, to have full recognition in New Jersey.

    Why is this law important?

    Transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Jerseyans need access to identity documents that accurately reflect the gender they live everyday, which is not necessarily the gender they were assigned at birth. We all use identity documents for important tasks such as enrolling ourselves or our children in school and college, applying for a job, opening a bank account, and applying for an apartment or mortgage. At other times we are compelled to show our identity documents, such as at a routine traffic stop. Having documentation that matches one’s gender is vitally important, as mismatches between a person’s gender identity and their identity documents can and does result in discrimination and harassment. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey showed that almost one third (32%) of transgender people who have shown ID’s that do not match their gender presentation had negative experiences, including verbal harassment (25%), denial of services or benefits (16%), being asked to leave (9%), and being assaulted or attacked (2%). This law will allow transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Jerseyans to access identity documents that do match their lived experience, which is truly life saving.

    What is the difference between transgender, non-binary, and intersex?

    Transgender people are those whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. Non-binary is a term that is often used by people whose gender is not exclusively male or female, including those who identify with a gender other than male or female, with more than one gender, or with no gender at all. Intersex refers to a person whose sexual or reproductive anatomy, or chromosomal pattern, does not seem to fit typical definitions of male or female.

    How do I change the gender marker on my New Jersey birth certificate (for adults)?

    As of February 1, 2019, New Jersey will re-issue a birth certificate when an applicant wishes to update their gender marker, legal name, or both. An applicant can apply for an updated birth certificate by submitting:

    Amendment requests are not accepted in-person. You must mail the completed application to:

    Office of Vital Statistics & Registry – Records Modification Unit
    NJ Department of Health
    P.O. Box 370
    Trenton, NJ 08625-0370

    After processing, the original birth certificate will be placed under seal, and the updated birth certificate will be issued and will not show an amended status.

    How do I change the gender marker and/or name on my child’s NJ birth certificate (for minors)?

    If you are the parent or guardian of a minor child (under the age of 18) who has a New Jersey birth certificate and who does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, you may change the gender marker on your child’s birth certificate by following the process outlined below. To change your child’s name on their birth certificate (or on any identity document) you will need a certified copy of the court order granting the name change. You can apply for an updated birth certificate for your minor child by submitting:

    • A completed and signed Parent/Guardian Request Form and Attestation to Amend Sex Designation on a Birth Certificate for a Minor to Reflect Gender Identity
    • If changing the name, a certified copy of the court order granting the name change.
    • Proof of identity: Parent. If you are requesting the amendment on behalf of a minor and you are the minor’s parent, you must provide your full name as it appears on the minor’s birth certificate, along with government-issued identification showing your full legal name (if your current legal name is different than what appears on the minor’s birth certificate, submit legal name change court order, or marriage certificate).
    • Proof of identity: Guardian. If you are requesting the amendment on behalf of a minor and you are the minor’s guardian, you must provide government-issued identification showing your full legal name along with the certified copy of the court order appointing you as the guardian of the minor.
    • A check/money order for $6.00 (subject to change) payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey.

    Amendment requests are not accepted in-person. You must mail the completed application to:

    Office of Vital Statistics & Registry – Records Modification Unit
    NJ Department of Health
    P.O. Box 370
    Trenton, NJ 08625-0370

    After processing, the original birth certificate will be placed under seal, and the updated birth certificate will be issued and will not show an amended status.

    Do I need a court order to change my gender marker?

    No. If you have a New Jersey birth certificate, you do not need a court order to change your gender marker. For instructions on how to change your gender marker see our above guide on changing your gender marker on your New Jersey birth certificate.

    I have a birth certificate issued by another state/jurisdiction. Can I change my gender marker in New Jersey?

    New Jersey cannot issue a birth certificate to a person born in another state or foreign jurisdiction. However, if you are a New Jersey resident AND you were born in a state that requires a court order to update a birth certificate, beginning February 1, 2019, the courts in New Jersey have the authority to issue a court order to reflect a change in gender. You will need to submit to the court a statement affirming under penalty of perjury that the request for a declaration of (female, male, or undesignated/non-binary) gender is to conform with your gender identity and not for any fraudulent purpose. For information on which states require a court order, and specifics on what the court order must attest to, see National Center for Transgender Equality: Identity Document Center.

    If I have an “X” marker on my New Jersey birth certificate, can I get an “X” marker on my New Jersey license?

    The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is working on implementing these changes. We do not have a roll out date for “X” markers on New Jersey drivers’ licenses at present, but stay tuned, as we will be updating our website and sharing that announcement as soon as it is made.

    If I have an X marker on my New Jersey birth certificate, can I get an X marker on my passport?

    At present the U.S. federal government only has “male” and “female” options on federally issued identity documents (passport, social security cards, green cards, etc.). With an “X” marker on your New Jersey birth certificate you will still be able to get a passport and social security card. Unfortunately you will need to select “male” or “female” on that form. See below for more information about changing your gender on your U.S. passport and with the Social Security Administration.

    Is it an issue for my gender marker on various identity documents to be different?

    While it is neither illegal nor unusual for gender markers to vary (for instance you may have an “F” gender marker on your U.S. passport, and an “X” marker on your New Jersey birth certificate) it can reduce bureaucratic hassles to have your gender markers match on all documentation.

    Are there gender neutral options for how a parent is listed on their child’s birth certificate?

    Yes. Same-gender couples who are either married, or in a civil union, can be listed as “Parent” and “Parent”, rather than as “Mother” and “Father” on their child’s birth certificate.


    For more information on changing your state or federal identity documents you can contact Garden State Equality directly at contact@gardenstateequality.org, or visit one of the following resources:

    National Center for Transgender Equality: Identity Document Center

    Movement Advancement Project: Identity Document Laws and Policies

     

    If you encounter any difficulties changing your state-issued identification please contact Garden State Equality at: contact@gardenstateequality.org

    Continue reading
  • The Provident Bank Foundation Grants GSE funding for Asbury Park LGBTQ Patient Advocacy Project

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    December 3, 2018

    CONTACT:
    Colin DeLucca
    Communications Manager
    Garden State Equality
    (973) 509-5428
    DeLucca@GardenStateEquality.org

    Garden State Equality receives grant from The Provident Bank Foundation to fund Asbury Park LGBTQ Patient Advocacy Project

    Garden State Equality (GSE) recently received a $16,850 grant from The Provident Bank Foundation to fund the Asbury Park LGBTQ Patient Advocacy Project. The grant will help further GSE’s mission of improving the health outcomes of LGBTQ individuals by funding this year-long project that includes healthcare provider cultural competency trainings, policy reviews, community workshops, and a culminating healthcare symposium.

    "I am exhilarated that The Provident Bank Foundation supports our Map and Expand initiative in Asbury Park to connect the LGBTQ community with affirming healthcare professionals and providers,” said Bianca Mayes, MPH, CHES, Health and Wellness Coordinator of GSE. “It is imperative that we empower the community of Asbury Park and advocate for LGBTQ health equity. We are confident that the Asbury Park LGBTQ Patient Advocacy Project can become a replicable model throughout LGBTQ communities in New Jersey."

    GSE’s Map and Expand program is dedicated to ensuring that LGBTQ individuals have access to quality healthcare professionals who respect them and promote safe, inclusive environments. The organization's team works with doctors, therapists, and hospitals to figure out what advocacy and programming efforts are needed to provide the best care possible for this vulnerable population. This grant supports community capacity building, as proposed trainings and workshops will strengthen the skills, abilities, and processes that local healthcare providers need to create safe and inclusive environments that meet the needs of the LGBTQ community and improve their health outcomes.

    About Garden State Equality

    Since 2004, Garden State Equality has built a reputation as the go-to agency for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in New Jersey. The organization’s mission is to provide cutting-edge programs and services that meet the needs of the LGBTQ community in our state. Garden State Equality aims to serve as a model for other statewide LGBTQ organizations and grassroots networks, helping them build successful initiatives that address similar imperatives in their communities.

    About The Provident Bank Foundation

    The Provident Bank Foundation was established in 2003 by Provident Bank to enhance the quality of life in the region through support of not-for-profit groups, institutions, schools and other 501(c)(3) organizations that provide services in communities served by the Bank. Since inception, the Foundation has granted more than $24 million to not-for-profit organizations and institutions working toward stronger communities.

    Continue reading
  • Aaron Potenza to Serve as Garden State Equality's New Director of Policy

    Garden State Equality is announcing the promotion of Mr. Aaron Potenza to the position of Director of Policy. From May 2015 to October 2015, Aaron served as GSE’s Anti-Bullying Organizer, overseeing advocacy and policy work in New Jersey schools on behalf of LGBTQ youth. In October of 2015, he was promoted to Director of Programs, a position he has held for the past three years. As Director of Programs, Aaron has overseen all of GSE’s programming initiatives. Under his direction, the organization’s programs have expanded to address issues facing LGBTQ people across all ages, with initiatives focused on youth, health and wellness, and older adults.

    Mr. Potenza is an educator and historian by training and has taught courses on the histories of race and ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and gender identity at Yale University and Trinity College Hartford. He did his undergraduate work in History and Gender Studies at the University of Rhode Island and his graduate work in American Studies at Yale University. He brings a background in nonprofit management and a passion for legislative and electoral politics, public policy, and movement organizing, to the newly-created role of Director of Policy. He also brings a record of success in this area, serving as GSE’s point person on the organization’s last four legislative victories (ensuring transition-related care is covered under health plans sold in NJ; removing outdated “proof of surgery” requirement, and adding third-gender option for birth certificate gender marker changes; ensuring dignity in death by adding gender identity to death certificates; and working on the legislative and policy implementation sides of the new statewide guidance on transgender students). Aaron also recently served on Governor Phil Murphy’s transition team, as a member of the Education, Access, and Opportunity committee.

    In his new role as Director of Policy, Aaron will be working to develop GSE’s legislative agenda in consultation with Board of Directors and national partners in the LGBTQ movement. He will be responsible for implementing the organization’s legislative agenda through meetings with legislative allies and state partners; collaborating with state agencies to implement legislative victories and develop LGBTQIA policies; managing GSE’s Municipal Equality work; managing all incoming advocacy and discrimination cases; and continuing his work with program staff on the policy components of their programs. He will also be serving as GSE’s representative on the NJ Transgender Task Force, the first interagency state Transgender Task Force in the country.

    Aaron identifies as a transgender gay man and uses male pronouns. He is committed to ensuring that GSE’s legislative and policy work continues to be informed by broader racial, economic, and social justice concerns and that it is carried out in partnership with organizations and individuals who represent the diversity and the people of the State.

    Continue reading
  • Letter Authored By Congressman MacArthur and Signed By Watson Coleman, LoBiondo, Norcross, and Pallone Prompts Air Force To Lift Homophobic Restriction on HIV Prevention Drug.

    A letter authored by Congressman Tom MacArthur and signed by 13 additional Congress members including New Jersey Congresspeople Bonnie Watson Coleman, Frank LoBiondo, Donald Norcross, and Frank Pallone Jr. prompted the Air Force to update its policy, allowing its pilots to take to take Truvada, a popular medication designed to prevent HIV infection commonly known as PrEP.

    “The Air Force made the right call by adopting a service-wide policy that allows pilots to use PrEP, a daily medication that significantly lowers the risk of contracting HIV,” Said Congressman Tom MacArthur. “This change in policy protects the health of pilots at higher risk of becoming HIV-positive and may encourage men and women who never thought to join the Air Force to now do so. I am grateful I could lead this effort and support our nation’s LGBTQ service members. I’d especially like to thank the members of Garden State Equality for their advocacy in South Jersey and for bringing this issue to my attention.”

    Garden State Equality believed the Air Force's policy represented an overly conservative approach that bordered on homophobia, since the medication is commonly used by gay, sexually active individuals. Meanwhile, Air Force leaders said they need time to rewrite older policies.

    “The restriction on Truvada for Air Force pilots was discriminatory, as the majority of lives affected by this policy were gay people who were given no evidence to support the need for this ban.” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “We thank Congressman Tom MacArthur and the other members of Congress who supported this initiative to fight for equality amongst our troops.”

    Up until the fall of 2018, the Air Force did not allow its pilots to take Truvada.

    While airmen who had been denied a prescription saw the move as the Air Force indicting them under the assumption they are living a promiscuous lifestyle not in keeping with service values, Air Force officials said the previous policy was based on safety concerns.

    To read the full letter, CLICK HERE

    Continue reading
  • DOE Issues New Transgender Student Guidance

    Today the New Jersey Department of Education issued guidelines affirming the rights of transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming students in public schools across the state.

    Garden State Equality is proud to have been a part of this process from the beginning. We worked hard to get this legislation passed and we worked with the Department of Education and other stakeholders as part of a working group on transgender students.

    The new guidelines affirm that under state and federal law students have the right to access restrooms and other gender-segregated facilities that match their gender identity. The guidelines also state:

    • that school administrators, teachers and staff must use a student’s chosen name and pronouns in verbal, written, and electronic communications
    • that schools must take a student-centered approach wherein gender identity determination rests with the student
    • that parental consent is not required to affirm a student’s identity
    • that students must be allowed to participate in intramural and interscholastic athletics in a manner consistent with their gender identity

     

    Our friend Rebekah Bruesehoff, a transgender activist and 6th grader in Sussex County, NJ put it best:

    “As a transgender student, I've been really lucky to have my school's support. It means I can focus on my classes, my friends, and playing field hockey. I know other trans kids aren't so lucky. These guidelines change that. As a transgender student and an activist, it makes a huge difference to know that the New Jersey Department of Education and Garden State Equality have our backs and are working to make schools safer for kids like me.”  Rebekah Bruesehoff, 6th grader, Sussex County

    We want to thank Assemblymembers Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joann Downey, Mila Jasey, and Benjie Wimberly; former Assemlymembers Tim Eustace, Reed Gusciora and Marlene Caride; and Senators Teresa Ruiz and Joe Vitale for this bill. We also want to thank Commissioner Repollet and his team at the Department of Education; our friends at GLSEN Central NJ and the team at ACLU NJ, and all the other advocates, parents, educators and students who came out to share their stories and make NJ schools fairer and more equitable learning environments.

    Continue reading