#NewJersey

New Jersey Schools Create a Safe Home Environment by not Telling Parents of Trans Students About Their Identity

Coming out is never an easy process as it is impossible to tell how people will react. For many, coming out to their parents is not a possibility, as plenty of parents have a difficult time accepting their LGBT children and will go out of the way to cause harm, either physical or mental, and even kick them out of the house. Schools in New Jersey have recognized the potential dangers of coming out and created a new state guidance that protects transgender students by telling teachers that they do not have to tell parents if a student comes out to them as transgender, NJ.com reports. By putting this guidance in place, New Jersey has become a national leader in protecting transgender rights. 

Of course, not everyone is pleased with the new guidance. Parents argue that schools have no right to keep such an important detail about their children from them, as they believe that they have a right to know. In an ideal world, trans and other LGBT people would be comfortable telling their parents about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but we do not live in such a world. Some people can predict how their parents will react, with some believing that they will get disowned or physically abused. If a student confides in a teacher that they are trans and tells them that there will be negative consequences if their parents find out, the teacher should be able from refraining from telling their student's parents. 

It's unfortunate but it does happen. According to The Williams Institute, between 30% to 43% of the homeless youth identify as LGBT, a staggering number no doubt caused my parents who do not accept their child's identity. By allowing teachers to keep their students' identity hidden from their family, New Jersey schools will potentially decrease cases of discrimination and abuse. Transgender individuals face unique challenges, as the concept of one's gender not matching their biological sex is still unfathomable to many people, including the parents and family members of trans people.

That's why this state guidance is so important: it protects trans students from the potential dangers of coming out. Hopefully more people will become better educated on transgender identity so that such laws do not have to exist, but for now, New Jersey took a step in the right direction. 


h/t: NJ.gov,  NJ.comThe Williams Institute

GOP Congressman: Orphanages Could Be Better Option Than Gay Parents

 

A Republican congressman from New Jersey appears to have told a group of high school students in his district that kids without families might be better off living in an orphanage instead of same-sex adoptive parents.

The Los Angeles Blade's Chris Johnson reports that Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who has served in Congress since 1981, attended an assembly of high school students at Colts Neck High School on May 29 this year.

During the Q&A session, high school senior Hannah Valdes asked the congressman about his opposition to same-sex couples adopting children.

In 1999, Smith had voted for a legislative amendment that would have prevented gay parents to adopt in the District of Columbia.

Valdes shared that she has a lesbian sister who would like to adopt at some point in the future, and so wanted to know why Smith felt her sister would be “less of a legitimate parent” than folks in heterosexual relationships.

Smith, according to a recording provided to the Blade, seemed to dodge the question saying “the issue, legally, is moot at this point especially with the Supreme Court decision” in an apparent reference to the 2015 case, Obergefell v. Hodges.

Smith added, that Valdes’ sister is “free to adopt.”

To be clear, however, in the aftermath of the 2015 SCOTUS ruling, states have begun to enact legislation allowing faith-based adoption agencies to decline placement of children with LGBT parents via a claim of ‘religious freedom.’

So, Valdes’ sister may not find herself so “free to adopt” at some point in the future.

When pressed further on the subject, Smith also alluded to the idea that “there are many others who would like to adopt who can acquire a child,” and for those folks “the waiting periods are extremely long.”

Another student asked about these “others” and why they would be more suitable for adopting than, say, Valdes’ sister.

Smith began his reply saying, “In my opinion, every child needs every possibility of,” but stopped short of finishing his thought. Many in the audience felt he was heading down the path of saying children should have every chance of being raised by a mother and a father.

It’s at that point that Smith switched things up saying, “Somebody mentioned orphanages before. I mean, orphanages are still a possibility for some kids.”

Wait - what?

According to the Blade, one shocked student followed that statement up with the question, “You’d rather have kids in an orphanage than with…?”

When asked whether Smith still felt that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt, he said he did.

Valdes told the Blade, “Smith responded by saying he does not approve of gay adoption because gay households are not healthy environments for children to grow up in.”

He also referenced “numerous household studies” that indicate children do better with heterosexual parents than LGBT parents.

That statement is not accurate, however.

Dozens of studies have shown children of gay parents fare equally as well as children of straight parents.

The exchange was eventually cut off by an administrator who interrupted to change the subject.

It will come as no surprise that Smith has an abysmal record on LGBT issue in Congress.

He voted for the hideous Defense of Marriage Act as well as a constitutional amendment that would have banned marriage equality across the nation.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” Yep, he voted for that, too. When it came time to repeal the military ban, he voted against that.

He’s also a co-sponsor on the First Amendment Defense Act which aims to legalize LGBT discrimination via deeply-held “religious beliefs.”

Basically, Rep. Smith doesn’t seem to have met an anti-LGBT bill he didn’t like.

Smith’s opponent in the upcoming mid-term elections, Democrat Josh Welle, was asked by the Blade for his response to the assembly chat.

“Chris Smith’s out-of-touch views might have flown in 1980 when he was elected, but his time has passed,” Welle said. “In 2018, in Central Jersey, it is unacceptable to imply a child would be better off in an orphanage than with a loving LGBTQ family. As a veteran, I fought on the front lines alongside men and women who gave their lives to protect and defend the civil liberties that our Constitution ensures for everyone, not just a few. Chris Smith takes us backwards on inclusion and basic human rights for all.”

Here's wishing Welle luck in the mid-terms, although, considering the 4th district has been held by Smith for 37 years, he may need it.

(h/t Los Angeles Blade)

New Laws In NJ Make Changing Birth & Death Certificates Much Easier For Trans People

New Jersey took positive steps forward on Tuesday when Gov. Phil Murphy signed new legislation into law providing important rights and protections for members of the LGBTQ community.

The first bill, SB478, allows transgender residents to change birth certificates to reflect their gender identity. According to the new law, people may choose to identify as male, female or undesignated.

Until now, transgender people had to undergo gender confirmation surgery and provide proof from their physician in order to amend their birth certificate.

According to Garden State Equality, the LGBTQ organization which helped draft the bill, New Jersey is the 17th state to enact a law dropping the surgery requirement for amending a birth certificate and only the fourth, after California, Oregon and Washington, to allow for a third gender option on the document. 

Former Gov. Chris Christie had vetoed the bill twice while in office.

The second bill, SB493, allows a death certificate to reflect a person’s changed gender identity. 

The third bill, SB705, provides for the creation of a Transgender Equality Task Force meant to identify barriers for transgender people in areas of housing, health care and criminal justice.

“Allowing vital records to match gender identity is an important step forward that will allow transgender individuals to control the disclosure of their transgender status,” said Gov. Murphy in a statement. “And by creating a Transgender Equality Task Force, New Jersey can ensure that all residents receive the protections they deserve. New Jersey will continue to stand with our LGBTQ residents in the continued pursuit of similar rights nationwide.”

According to a report by the Williams Institute at the University of California, there are approximately 30,100 transgender people living in New Jersey and 1.4 million trans people in the United States.

New Jersey is Seeing Rainbows With Their New Crosswalks!

New Jersey is having the best pride ever! The small town of Maplewood is the first city/town in New Jersey to get a permanent rainbow crosswalk. And it is the first rainbow crosswalk on a county road. Located at the intersection of Oakview and Valley Street, the colorful display of pride is getting attention from locals and others who are visiting just to see the new attraction.

Maplewood joins the ranks of some major cities that have permanent rainbow crosswalks like San Francisco, Philadelphia, and West Hollywood. Check out the list of some others here!

NJ.com reports that Dean Dafis, the first openly gay committee member of the Maplewood Township, lead the initiative that saw its share of multiple approvals from the city council and the county.

Dafis says:

We want to do something that would serve as a permanent marker or symbol of our commitment to inclusion.

I wanted it to be something you can encounter every day. We want our youth in particular -- perhaps those struggling to find their way, those in need of empowerment and affirmation -- to proudly cross or walk over their fear and self-doubt.

While many towns have striped their crosswalks in the colors of the rainbow before for Pride, no town in New Jersey has ever done so on a County Road (Valley) and very few towns in the world have done so in permanent fashion as we are doing. This is a historic achievement and one which once again marks Maplewood as a leader and crusader in diversity, inclusion, and equal treatment. When we commit to something here, we do it BIG!

New Jersey will now be able to celebrate pride all year long!

h/t: NJ.com

Teen Gay Couple Gets Surprise During Post-Prom Boardwalk Stroll

It’s prom season, and like many couples across America, teenagers Theodore Vidal and his boyfriend Colin Beyers were stretching out the end of their prom night.

The two high schoolers, walking in their matching navy blue tuxes and pink bow ties, took a stroll on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

As they walked, they approached a rooftop bar where a rowdy group of quintessential "Jersey Shore bros" had been yelling at every couple who passed by to kiss.

Michael Del Moro, a producer for Good Morning America, happened to be out for ice cream with his boyfriend and family members when they noticed the rowdy “bros” and the cute couple at the same time.

Del Moro was initially worried about what might happen when the gay couple passed the group. 

So was Vidal, apparently. He told the local ABC affiliate that he and Beyers readied themselves for the razzing. "It's South Jersey. Guys pick on us for being gay a lot," said 17-year-old high school junior. "It's an area where you normally would get picked on and discriminated against."

Vidal had come out when he was in 8th grade and knew well the bullying being gay can bring. He told Buzzfeed that he spent much of that year being attacked, bullied, ignored and told to “end his life.”

But, he and Del Moro were surprised when the rooftop crowd cheered, changing their chants of “Kiss her” to “Kiss him!” Vidal and Beyers hesitantly kissed one another, and rather than taunting the couple the rooftop crew went wild screaming their approval.

Vidal told ABC7, “The way it went down was amazing. It was so positive and so reinforcing that I could be myself and not get made fun of and I could be myself with who I love and not get made fun of for that.”

"A lot of people here think gay people aren't strong or we're more girly because we show emotion but we've learned it's better to show what you are feeling and be open and who you are as long as you are pushing forward," Beyers added.

The cute couple is now planning a summer trip to Greece together before Beyers begins his freshman year at the College of New Jersey this fall while Vidal wraps up his senior year of high school.

Del Moro later tweeted he actually knew some of the rooftop bar “bros.” They were apparently celebrating their friends’ bachelor party and loved the whole thing saying, “We are all very happy for those guys.” 

Check out Del Moro’s full Twitter thread below.