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Governor Murphy Advances LGBTQIA+ Youth Equity and Inclusion in Schools

Governor Murphy Announces New Commission to Support LGBTQIA+ Youth in NJ Schools

NEW JERSEY - At June 17th's annual Pride Month celebration at Drumthwacket, Governor Phil Murphy announced the signing of Executive Order No. 361, establishing the Advisory Commission on Advancing LGBTQIA+ Youth Equity and Inclusion in Schools. This initiative aims to build on the Administration’s efforts to support LGBTQIA+ youth and ensure New Jersey schools provide a safe, supportive, and equitable learning environment for all students.

Now more than ever – while we are observing a nationwide uptick in hatred and bigotry – it is critical to convene experts to inform our approach to uplifting our LGBTQIA+ youth. All children in New Jersey deserve to feel safe and respected in the classroom," said Governor Murphy.

The newly formed Commission will address the many challenges that LGBTQIA+ youth face in schools, including harassment, bullying, and an increased risk for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. By reviewing educational policies, recommending best practices for creating inclusive environments, and advising on strategies to support the mental health and well-being of LGBTQIA+ students, the Commission will play a pivotal role in advancing equity in schools. Additionally, it will focus on curriculum inclusivity and professional development for educators.

New Jersey is delivering on its promise to all students in our public schools by assembling this strong and committed group of advocates and state leaders. I’m honored to be part of the team at the national forefront of realizing inclusive and affirming schools, and ensuring positive outcomes for our LGBTQIA+ youth,” said Kate Okeson, Executive Director of the Advisory Commission on Advancing LGBTQIA+ Youth Equity and Inclusion in Schools.

Comprising 20 to 25 members, the Commission will include five Cabinet members or their designees, such as the Commissioners of Education, Children and Families, Health, Human Services, and the Attorney General. Kate Okeson, a New Jersey educator and long-time advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, will serve as the Executive Director. Okeson is the co-founder and director of Make it Better for Youth, an organization dedicated to improving the social and educational outcomes of LGBTQIA+ youth. Her experience leading initiatives such as the development of an LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Curriculum will be instrumental in her new role.

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