Old Bridge Schools Superintendent Defends Protections for Transgender Students Amid Community Debate

In a recent meeting, the Old Bridge School Board in New Jersey grappled with policy 5756, which deals with the rights and safety of transgender students. The board also addressed the implementation of a High Impact Tutoring Grant to mitigate pandemic-related learning loss, a noteworthy student’s literary accomplishment, and notable team achievements in sports. However, the meeting was dominated by community dialogue surrounding policy 5756.

The policy, in place for six years, has been under scrutiny by a section of the community with concerns revolving around parental rights, student safety, and potential societal impact. It has also been lauded by many who believe it provides crucial protections for transgender students. Superintendent David Cittadino clarified that the policy aims to provide a safe space for students and does not involve schools in providing gender-affirming medication or surgeries.

Among the speakers were parents sharing personal experiences, community members voicing their principles, and students expressing their fears and hopes. A parent spoke about their transgender daughter’s experience, emphasizing the need for safety and protection. In contrast, another parent questioned the scientific validity of gender identity and the potential for molestation in bathrooms. A former Board of Education member pointed out that the policy had been effective without significant issues for six years, emphasizing the board’s responsibility to protect LGBTQ+ students.

A non-binary student highlighted the importance of the policy for those who can’t be open about their gender identity at home. They emphasized the need for support, particularly in an educational environment. However, some critics argued that the policy promotes gender confusion and contradicts parental beliefs. Concerns were also raised about confidentiality, privacy of school records, and the participation of biological males in female sports.

Cittadino emphasized the importance of educators as supportive figures and of providing a safe space for conversations rather than immediately notifying parents. He also clarified that the school does not provide gender-affirming medication or surgeries and that there is no influence by teachers on students’ gender identities.

Another development during the meeting was the discussion on the High Impact Tutoring Grant received by the district. The grant, amounting to $460,000, will be used to address learning gaps caused by the pandemic. The program, starting in January 2024, will focus on specific skills in English language arts and mathematics for third and fourth graders.

Notable student successes were also recognized during the meeting. A young author and student named Cabeo was applauded for his book “How to Thrive in a Changing World.” The board commended his efforts and announced that his book would be available for purchase. Additionally, the board celebrated the achievements of the cheerleading, field hockey, and girls volleyball teams.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

David Cittadino
School Board Officials:
Salvatore Giordano, Matt Sulikowski, Jennifer D’Antuono, Marjorie Jodrey, Lisa Lent, Leonardo Marchetta, Devinder Singh, Jay D. Slade, Frank Weber

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