LEGAL ONE Evolving Legal Standards for LGBTQ+ Students

There is nothing better in the world than learning. Connecting new information to old information is one of the greatest gifts we have as human beings. My newest dive into learning was created by the New Jersey Principals & Supervisors Association.

I was extremely interested in the law surrounding LGBT+ students and their rights. David Nash, Esq., LEGAL ONE Director, was running the show in the morning in conjunction with Robyn Gigl, Esq. Together they created a calm efficient way to disseminate the information. If you are involved in the NJ education system I would highly recommend you attend. Also Robyn has a legal thriller coming out at the end of the month that you can purchase here.

The morning flew by. I found the NJDOE Guidance on Terminology to be a fantastic resource. One nuance they discussed is the terminology of Sexual Orientation vs Sexual preference. This is so basic yet something that I forget sometimes.

They spent a large majority discussing how school districts should provide support for a student that is transgender. The biggest takeaway is that a school district is not required to gain parental consent in accepting a student’s asserted gender identity. Not only do they not need consent, they are not required to notify a student’s parent or guardian of the student’s gender identity or expression.

My biggest question going into the session I had was how early can we start teaching our students about this legally? The answer I received was that it should be implemented through the curriculum which has to be approved by the school board. There should be no opting out of this curriculum. The content should be embedded across multiple subjects and school districts are legally allowed to teach this as early as the curriculum allows.

One final nugget was brought up by the amazing Robyn is the idea of being “culturally humility”.

Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998 They defined cultural humility as “a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and critique, to redressing power imbalances . . . and to developing mutually beneficial and non-paternalistic partnerships with communities on behalf of individuals and defined populations” (p. 123). Furthermore, Tervalon and Murray-Garcia stressed that “culture” should not be limited to dimensions like racial or ethnic identity, but should include, for example, the culture of the physician or public health professional, which also requires humility in dealing with patients, families, and communities. link

This idea of cultural humility makes so much sense. When I look back at the arc of my journey I am much farther ahead now than where I was five years ago. Hopefully, I will learn more and be a better human in five years than I am now. The key is constant critique and self evaluation and avoiding saviorism. It is difficult when you learn more information to not want to share it with the world. Saviorism is sneaky though. You think you are “enlightening” people when in reality we are centering ourselves. No group needs us to save or rescue them. The best we can do is support and amplify those communities who have people already advocating for themselves. Finally, the learning journey never ends. We need to stay abreast of the newest language and always learning how the history of our systems have created the circumstances we see today.

There were also two more speakers who presented. Kristina Donovan, Ph.D., Supervisor of School Counseling in Princeton School District. She packed a boatload of information into 45 minutes. I really enjoyed learning how Princeton supports their LGBT+ students and their privacy.

Jackie Bramble spoke about a resource spread across NJ called High Focus Centers. One of the centers is located right in Lawrence!

Our mission is to provide the best possible care for our patients. Adults, adolescents and families struggling with addiction or psychiatric illness call us in search of relief. We strive to provide them with elite-level care in the least restrictive setting possible, while matching them with a program that best fits their individual needs. Each individual is given the tools to achieve maximum benefit from treatment while being afforded the flexibility necessary for maintaining a productive life outside of treatment.

https://highfocuscenters.pyramidhealthcarepa.com/about/

In conclusion, I would highly recommend you attend the session if possible. Here is the site for checking out other events.

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