School community turns out to defend attack

Hundred of students, staff, parents, and community members responded to calls for removal of LGBTQ+ materials at Board Meeting

Community+members+present+at+the+Board+of+Education+meeting+on+February%2C+28th.+They+are+adorned+in+rainbow+masks+that+were+handed+out+outside+of+the+Little+Theater+prior+to+the+meeting%2C+and+holding+signs+advocating+for+inclusion+and+acceptance+at+Hunterdon+Central.

Community members present at the Board of Education meeting on February, 28th. They are adorned in rainbow masks that were handed out outside of the Little Theater prior to the meeting, and holding signs advocating for inclusion and acceptance at Hunterdon Central.

Dozens of residents, students, and staff spoke at the Hunterdon Central Board of Education Meeting on Monday, February 28, due to the concern regarding LGBTQ+ materials in the classrooms and libraries

At the public forum, the majority of the population in the Little Theater were students, staff, and community members in support of the LGBTQ+ community. They had posters and flags in support. The line to speak was out the door causing the meeting to last over two and a half hours for the board meeting. There were also groups such as “NJ Parental Rights and Team Protect Your Children” that spoke out against the use of LGBTQ+ materials. 

This all came about just days before the meeting on Monday. Hunterdon Central Board of Education had to make sure that there was enough security and that there were enough seats. The preparation they had done wasn’t enough though. There was not a seat left, all 300 seats were taken, in the Little Theater with an overflow of 50 people in the Commons watching it live from right down the hall. 

Dr. Jeffrey Moore, in his fifth year as superintendent, has never had anyone challenge curriculum like this before. The challenge came to the Board of Education at a very interesting time of the school year, Moore said. This all came about during “Read Across America Week” about banning books in the curriculum. 

Similar to Hunterdon Central, other schools in the area have experienced similar groups like “NJ Parental Rights and Team Protect Your Children” showing up at their board meetings. North Hunterdon and Voorhees had similar experiences with people showing up to say their opinion on LGBTQ+ materials in the classroom. These schools were presented with a complaint. Their Board of Education denied the recommendation of removing one book and the majority of the Board of Education agreed to let all of the books stay in their school’s curriculum. 

State Director of NJ Parental Rights and Team Protect Your Children,  Victoria Jake believes that all students should be treated equally. “Treating all students equally cannot mean that those with deeply held religious views are discriminated against,” she said. 

Another member, Shawn White, who is the Pastor of Gateway Church, also spoke against LGBTQ+ materials.“There are divine designs placed upon all of us by god whether you choose to accept or object the truth doesn’t negate the reality of it we were created male and female period,” he said.

I am energized by what I saw on Monday, A large part of our community stood up for their ideas that they thought should not be taken away from them. ”

— Dr. Jeffrey Moore, Superintendent

On the other side, thirty students from all grades spoke against banning these materials. Destinee Dockhorn, a senior, was one of those students. “No student or person for that matter should feel like their identity is being questioned especially in an environment where they spend the majority of their time, school is about learning and not about worrying if you can be yourself,” she said. 

Dr. Moore also spoke out at the end of the public forum and after the meeting. “I am energized by what I saw on Monday,” he said after the meeting. “A large part of our community stood up for their ideas that they thought should not be taken away from them.” 

No action has been taken since the meeting because no books were specifically mentioned to be banned. Dr. Moore is unsure about what will happen next, or if the group will return with a list of specific books.