At a New Jersey school board meeting last week, parents outraged over the district's transgender policy were told by the board's lawyer that it is not the right of the parents to determine the curriculum taught to their children at public schools, Fox News Digital reported.
Parents attending the Lawrence Township Board of Education meeting on October 19 expressed concern over controversial lessons and books with gender-questioning themes.
One of the books concerned parents criticized the district for was "Jacob's New Dress" by Ian Hoffman and Sarah Hoffman. The picture book for kindergartens tells the story of a young boy who enjoys playing dress-up and wants to wear a dress to school.
Parents confronted the district about encouraging fourth-grade students to question their gender with a lesson on the "gender snowperson." Students are asked to participate in a game where they can pretend to be any gender they choose, reported CentralJersey.com.
Resident Ana Samuel spoke during the board meeting and said that she believes the district's lesson "strongly encourages children to question their gender and moves them toward the slippery slope of 'transgender treatment plans.'"
Parents also questioned the district's transgender policy, Policy 5756, which states that the district "shall accept a student's asserted gender identity" and that "parental consent is not required."
According to the policy, staff must refer to a child by the child's preferred names and pronouns, but they are not required to "notify a student's parent of the student's gender identity or expression."
The state's learning standards state that the district "shall include instruction on the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, in an appropriate place in the curriculum of middle school and high school students."
The board's lawyer, John Comegno, responded to the objections by stating that a parent's right "is not to dictate what their children are taught, it is to determine where they attend."
"In public schools, we have curriculum that is aligned with New Jersey state learning standards," Comegno said.
"But please know … if your students attend these awesome schools, they're going to be instructed in this curriculum, which is consistent with state learning standards," he continued. "That's not binding. If you choose to have your child attend elsewhere, that's your right. That's your right as a parent."
"If there is a concern or a criticism about policy or learning standards in the State of New Jersey, you have a right to be heard. Go to the NJDOE, talk to your elected officials – but not here, [school board members] are powerless when it comes to what the NJDOE says is required or not required," he said.
According to Fox News Digital, the Lawrence Township Board of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.