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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination protects students!!


The New Jersey Supreme Court, in a 7 to 0 decision, has ruled that New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination protects students perceived to be gay from bullying by other students in New Jersey schools -- and that if the school discovers the bullying, the school must take reasonable steps to stop it.


"Garden State Equality would like to thank the following people for helping to make today's landmark decision happen. They deserve the credit as well as the enduring appreciation of us all:

-- The plaintiff "L.W.," the young man perceived to be gay who stood up for his dignity and that of every other student perceived to be LGBTI, whether LGBTI or not.

-- Deputy Attorney General Jim Michael, who so eloquently represented the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights in fighting for L.W.'s civil rights.

-- Division on Civil Rights director Frank Vespa-Papaleo, one of the country's most spectacular civil rights leaders. Frank has won every award our community has to offer and we love him dearly.

-- Legendary civil rights lawyer Larry Lustberg, partner at the Gibbons law firm in Newark, who represented eight community organizations that sought to stop the bullying. Larry, as you may know, was part of Lambda Legal's team on the New Jersey marriage equality lawsuit. There are no greater humanitarians in the legal profession in our entire nation than Larry Lustberg. Larry, you are an American treasure.

-- The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, including Legal Director Ed Barocas, lawyer Jeanne LoCicero and Executive Director Deborah Jacobs. The ACLU of New Jersey once again has made a profound difference in the lives of millions in our state. When you look up courage in the dictionary of civil rights, the ACLU of New Jersey is listing number one.

-- The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network chapters in New Jersey. GLSEN, in New Jersey and nationwide, was the first organization in America to make anti-gay bullying its signature issue. GLSEN laid the groundwork for today's decision in so many ways. What a proud moment for an unbelievable organization.

-- National Conference for Community and Justice of New Jersey, New Jersey Family Voices, Roxbury Parents for Exceptional Children, the Statewide Parents Advocacy Network of New Jersey, NJLGC and GAAMC for your years of working with LGBTI youth. You all represent the very best of grassroots activism.

-- And of course PFLAG, whose New Jersey chapters have been relentless in standing up for justice and dignity for all our children. You, PFLAG, are the parents many of us wish we had.

We extend to all of you our deepest gratitude and love, as will successive generations of LGBTI youth. God bless you and the great State of New Jersey."

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