The New Jersey School Boards Association recently adopted a policy that explicitly states its commitment to cultivating school communities that are welcoming to LGBTQ+ students.

During the association’s annual meeting this month, the NJSBA’s Delegate Assembly voted on the resolution, which was proposed by the South Orange-Maplewood School District. (SOMSD adopted a similar resolution in 2020 and this month passed a new comprehensive policy protecting transgender and non-binary students.)

While NJSBA’s Manual of Positions and Policies on Education and model school board policies previously contained general statements about acceptance and inclusion, the new resolution adds language explicitly naming affectional/sexual orientation and gender identity/expression as protected classes. In addition, the new policy statement recommends that school districts “make all necessary and appropriate efforts” to make schools safe for all students, including those who are LGBTQ+.

“This is a positive opportunity for LGBTQ+ youth in New Jersey to feel supported and seen,” said Shannon Cuttle, South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education First Vice President and delegate to the NJSBA Board of Directors. “By demonstrating how LGBTQ-affirming policies improve outcomes for all students, New Jersey can be a model for other states and boards of education across the country.”

“New Jersey is a leader in LGBTQ+ equality,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “Despite our progress, we know that there are still students in New Jersey who face challenges due to being LGBTQ+. NJSBA’s new resolution is another step toward making sure all students truly have equal access to positive educational outcomes in New Jersey.”

This policy from the NJSBA comes less than a year after the New Jersey Inclusive Curriculum bill went into effect. The law promotes a fuller understanding of LGBTQ+ people and disabled people in school curriculums. For more information, visit the LGBTQ-Inclusive Lessons & Resources website.

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