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Brick Mayor, an NJEA Rep, Condemns ‘Assault on Parental Rights’ by Governor Murphy

Brick Mayor Lisa Crate introduces the 2023 operating budget, March 28, 2023. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Brick Mayor Lisa Crate introduces the 2023 operating budget, March 28, 2023. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Brick Township Mayor Lisa Crate responded powerfully and candidly to political rivals who have begun to link her to controversial gender identity policies that have received support from the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy.

Crate, a fellow Democrat, serves as the full-time president of the Jackson Education Association, which represents teachers and other employees of Jackson Township schools. Though municipal government in Brick does not carry jurisdiction over the school district, her Republican rivals have begun their campaign against Crate over Murphy’s social agenda, backed by considerable funding from the NJEA, the powerful state teachers’ union with which the JEA is affiliated.

In June, the Murphy administration filed lawsuits against three school districts over their transgender notification policies – specifically, policies that use similar verbiage to require teachers inform parents if their students show a desire to change their gender. Matt Platkin, the state attorney general, brought the litigation against the Manalapan-Englishtown, Marlboro and Middletown districts, all in Monmouth County. The issue instantly became political fodder, with some Democrats arguing in favor of the litigation, claiming it could protect the safety of minors who want to transition to another sex, while Republicans have claimed Murphy is ordering districts to active deceive parents and hide what some consider to be a mental health issue.

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Last month, a group of Brick Township Republicans running against Crate and her ticket for mayor and township council confronted the Democrats on the issue. Crate responded with a statement at a council meeting Tuesday night, at which the GOP candidates did not appear to be present.

“I have and will continue to consistently state that if parents have any concerns about anything that is going on with their child during their time in school or anything going on within the classroom, they should first call their child’s teacher to have a discussion about it,” said Crate. “Under Governor Murphy’s policy, educational professionals cannot have those discussions with parents, and that’s wrong.”

Crate said, “We are all working toward the same goal:  the success of our students,” before going on to criticize the governor’s stance.

“I oppose Governor Murphy’s reckless assault on parental rights,” she said. “Parents have the right to be informed about their child’s mental, physical and sexual health.  Educators have worked for decades to open these doors of communication for the betterment of all of their students and this policy makes it impossible for them to continue to do so.”

Official policy guides from the state say school districts “shall ensure” students be “addressed at school by the name and pronoun chosen by the student, regardless of whether a legal name change or change in official school records has occurred.” The same guidance mandates that schools “shall issue school documentation for a transgender student, such as student identification cards, in the name chosen by the student,” regardless of the legality of the name chosen. Most controversial however, is language that states “parental consent is not required” for the district to accept a student’s “asserted gender identity.”

Murphy, in an interview with CBS News, has dismissed the issue has being part of a “complete culture war,” defending the policy of declining to inform parents on gender issues brought up at school as “the right thing to do.”

“As I’ve stated before, I have been an educator for over 30 years and as a professional, I know what works in the classroom,” said Crate, who is battling state Assemblyman John Catalano to replace John Ducey, a Democrat, as Brick’s mayor after Ducey was appointed a Superior Court judge earlier this year. Crate has served on the council since 2016, including stints as president and vice president. Catalano has also previously served on the township council before successfully running for state office.

“The best way to ensure that educators can provide a healthy and productive environment for all of our students is to have open communication between parents and teachers,” she said.

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