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UPDATE: Pilot programs are starting this month in a dozen NJ schools before the LGBTQ curriculum mandate takes effect across the board this fall. Participating schools include nine public schools in Asbury Park, Haddon Heights, Highland Park, Millburn, Newark, Rumson and Tuckerton and three charter schools (also public, but privately managed) in Hackensack, Morristown and Somers Point. Garden State Equality chose the pilot schools based on geography, racial diversity, interest and need. Teachers and administrators receiving training today at Union County College will get three to four lessons per grade and subject.

February 1, 2019: Governor Phil Murphy signed a new law yesterday that will make big changes to NJ schools. Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, educators will be required to teach students about notable LGBTQ people and their historic and social contributions, as well as those with disabilities. Lesson examples include history lessons on gay victims of the Holocaust and grammar lessons on pronouns and identity. The law is meant to promote equality and acceptance in schools and beyond.

The law will require educators to teach middle and high school students the social, economic and political contributions of LGBTQ individuals. Local districts will have the ability to determine their own lessons within a broad range of subjects. Bill A1335 promotes tolerance and acceptance, and aims to not only inspire inclusivity of prominent queer historical figures in classrooms, but also offer support to the LGBTQ students in those classrooms.

NJ is the second state in the country to put a law like this into effect, following California’s FAIR Act, which passed in 2012.

This is following Murphy’s recent signing of the Babs Siperstein Bill, which starting today gives parents the option of choosing non-binary on their child’s birth certificate, and also allows gender-neutral adults to change their gender markers on birth and death certificates without being required to show proof of reassignment surgery.