New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy defended a move by his administration to prevent school districts from informing parents that their children are showing signs of gender transitioning.
In June, three New Jersey school districts—Middletown school district, Marlboro school district, and Manalapan-Englishtown Regional school district—approved policies to require that parents be told if their children showed signs of “transitioning” to another gender. Specifically, these signs include students beginning to use a different name, pronouns, or bathrooms that are different from their sex.
Just a day later, Mr. Murphy’s administration announced a move to sue the school districts, with the state contending that these policies entailed “outing” the students and would fail to provide students with a “safe” learning environment.
“Without question, the discriminatory policies passed by these boards of education, if allowed to go into effect, will harm our kids and pose severe risk to their safety,” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said after filing emergency lawsuits challenging the school board policies.
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During a July 23 appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Mr. Murphy fielded questions from anchor Margaret Brennan about the move, evading directly answering some questions about the proper role of parents in these matters.
Earlier, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, suggested that transgender procedures on minors should be permissible, but emphasized the importance of parental involvement.
Ms. Brennan tied her question to Mr. Christie’s earlier position.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a town-hall-style event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., on June 6, 2023. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
“Why is Mr. Christie wrong when he says parents are the ones who know best here and they should be involved?” Ms. Brennan asked.
“Listen, we took these actions, because it’s the right thing to do to protect these precious young people,” Mr. Murphy replied, accusing Republicans of using the issue to wage “a complete cultural war” as Republicans charge progressives with doing the same.
Mr. Murphy claimed that “parents are always involved. Certainly, in our administration, they’re always at the table, and they always will be.”
But he said that the “rights of children” need to be protected, and suggested that the move to block school districts from telling children’s parents about attempts at gender transition would secure this end.
“Let’s be smart about this. Let’s protect the rights of these precious kids. Let’s do things the right way, the American way,” Mr. Murphy said. “And I think if we do that in a spirit of respecting everyone’s rights, protecting the LGBTQIA+ community, we will land at a good place.”
Past litigation has found that while children have rights when dealing with the government, such as in the case of juvenile criminal justice cases, children’s rights to privacy from their parents is largely in the hands of the parents themselves to determine. Minor children are generally recognized to not have the same constitutional rights as adults.
Ms. Brennan then asked Mr. Murphy about the argument put forward by plaintiffs in the case, who argued that blocking a school counselor or staff member from telling a parent about their child attempting to change gender is a violation of a constitutional right of parents to direct and control the upbringing of their children.
“Why isn’t that compelling?” Ms. Brennan asked.
The Parental Rights and Education Freedom Rally draws citizens, parents, and elected officials to the State House Annex, to address crucial challenges and advocate for parental rights in Trenton, New Jersey on May 15, 2023. (Frank Liang/The Epoch Times)
Mr. Murphy conceded that parents are “the existential reality in the upbringing of any child without question.”
“I don’t deny that for one second,” he said. “But let’s not violate the … constitutional and civil rights of precious young folks in many cases, who are coming to grips with life and as they grow up and grow older, let’s be respectful of that. Let’s be all in this together as opposed to this ‘us versus them’ demonizing.
“When that happens invariably, it’s the LGBT community that gets … particularly trans folks who get behind the eight ball.”