School districts that leave parents in the dark when their child exhibits a change in gender identity are merely following "the American way," New Jersey Democratic governor Phil Murphy argued Sunday.
Murphy during a CBS News appearance defended his administration's decision to sue school districts that enact parental notification policies, which require school officials to inform parents when their child displays a change in his or her gender identity. For Murphy, those policies force school staff "to 'out' LGBTQ+ students to their parents," as he argued in May, and therefore violate the child's constitutional rights. As a result, Murphy argued Sunday, opposing parental notification is "the American way."
"Listen, we took these actions because it's the right thing to do," Murphy said. "Let's protect the rights of these precious kids. Let's do things the right way, the American way."
The Democrat's comments come as Murphy and other liberal Northeast lawmakers rebuke parents who want a say in their children's education. Beyond Murphy's lawsuits, liberal state legislators in New Hampshire have in recent months hurled inflammatory rhetoric at parental rights advocates. In May, for example, state representative Tom Hoyt lashed out at a parent who urged him to pass a parental rights bill, telling the parent to "let the teachers teach, and shut up." Just two months later, in July, Democratic state senator Catherine Sofikitis likened a leading parental rights advocacy group to the Taliban.
The Biden administration has also worked to exclude parents from the education process. Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2021 issued a memo that launched investigations into parents who "intimidate" school boards. Garland's memo came in response to a request from the National School Boards Association, which referred to concerned parents as potential "domestic terrorists."
Murphy's attorney general, Matt Platkin, has similarly defended the administration's crusade against districts that adopt parental notification policies, which he says pose "serious mental health risks" and threaten "physical harm to students." Platkin also informed New Jersey's school districts that politically neutral bans on flags and posters could also prompt legal action, the Washington Free Beacon reported in June.
The Marlboro Board of Education, which the Murphy administration sued in late June, has pledged to defend its parental notification policy.
"It is our position that keeping parents in the dark about important issues involving their children," the school board's attorney told the Free Beacon, "is counterintuitive and contrary to well-established Supreme Court case law that says parents have a constitutional right to direct and control the upbringing of their children."
As Murphy and other Democrats spar with parental rights advocates, test scores across the country are plummeting. A National Assessment of Education Progress report published in June found that math and reading scores among American 13-year-olds are at their lowest levels in decades. While the Biden administration said its "historic" COVID-era school spending is poised to reverse that trend, many districts used those funds to pay out lucrative staff bonuses.