The number of students in New Jersey public schools who identify as "non-binary" jumped more than 4,000 percent over the last four years, according to state enrollment data.
Only 16 students from the state's public schools identified as "non-binary" during the 2019-20 school year, enrollment figures from the New Jersey Department of Education show. By the 2022-23 school year, however, that number skyrocketed to 675 students, a more than 4,000 percent increase, according to the figures. Among the 675 students who identified themselves as "non-binary," 41 are in elementary school.
The explosion of self-identified "non-binary" students in New Jersey public schools comes as the state's liberal leaders argue that parents should not be informed if their child expresses a change in his or her gender or sexual identity. When a local school board last month passed the policy, arguing that it aligns with an effort to inform parents of anything that could have "a material impact on a student's physical and/or mental health," New Jersey Democratic attorney general Matthew Platkin sued the district. For Platkin, the policy "discriminates" against LGBTQ students by requiring teachers to "out" students "to their parents without their consent." The state's liberal governor, Phil Murphy, endorsed the lawsuit.
"Hanover Township Board of Education's new policy requiring staff to 'out' LGBTQ students to their parents violates the rights of our students—jeopardizing their well-being and mental health," Murphy said in May.
Erika Sanzi, director of outreach at parental rights nonprofit Parents Defending Education, said the jump in "non-binary" students comes as no surprise, pointing to school policy and curriculum that are "completely based in gender ideology."
"These numbers aren't surprising to anyone who has been following the massive social contagion of adopting different gender identities, especially among adolescent girls," Sanzi told the Washington Free Beacon.
Beyond the climbing proportion of New Jersey public school students who identify as non-binary, recent studies have shown a similar increase in transgender identification. A 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, for example, found that roughly 1.8 percent of U.S. high school students identify as transgender. A subsequent American Academy of Pediatrics study released four years later found nearly 10 percent identified as such.
Adolescent mental health struggles are also up, particularly among LGBTQ-identifying youth. A 2021 nationwide survey from the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ advocacy group, found that 70 percent of LGBTQ youth said their mental health was mostly or always "poor" during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nicole Stouffer, a New Jersey parent and biostatistician who founded parent advocacy group NJ Fresh Faced Schools, said the massive increase in self-identified "non-binary" students is both "statistically significant and medically relevant."
"Since non-binary gender is normalized in the schools, expect that this count will become higher for the 2023-24 school year," Stouffer told the Free Beacon.