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Garden State Equality presented an LGBTQ 101 workshop on January 10 in collaboration with Pennington Public Library, Hopewell Valley Regional School District (HVRSD), and Hope Rises Up. Garden State Equality is a statewide organization that advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) community. 

Catherine Fulmer-Hogan, the mother of an elementary school-aged transgender girl, organized the event. Fulmer-Hogan said she feels that even though she is fortunate to live and raise her children in Hopewell, the community still needs to be educated on the LGBTQ community in order to provide safe spaces and support for these marginalized people. She emphasized the importance of including topics related to the LGBTQ community in school curricula, a common theme of the night.

A group of more than 100 Hopewell residents of all ages listened to a representative from Garden State Equality give a very informative presentation on the LGBTQ community, including important terms and the best ways to support LGBTQ youth. Attendees were also able to browse tables of LGBTQ children’s books, some of which are currently being implemented into the HVRSD curriculum.

The Superintendent of the HVRSD, Dr. Thomas Smith and the Director, Office of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Rosetta Treece, both attended. Dr. Treece stressed the importance of LBGTQ literacy, progressive bathroom policies, and letting students self-identify in schools. She also highlighted the fact that, as of September 2020, LGBTQ history will be required by the State as part of the curriculum and that Hopewell recently received funding for more diverse literature, including books by LGBTQ authors and books with LGBTQ themes.

Elected officials, including Hopewell Township Committee member Courtney Peters-Manning and Deputy Mayor of Hopewell Township Michael Ruger also attended. Peters-Manning noted that “it’s so important to educate our wider community on how to support our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters” and thanked the organizers for hosting this “critically important program.” 

Ruger said he was pleased by the number of attendees who came to learn about the “burdens LBGTQ youth face in school” and thought it was “great that our school district takes this issue of basic human rights so seriously.”

Attendees mentioned that they left the event with a greater knowledge of the LGBTQ community in general, how the community is supported in Hopewell, and what they can do personally to contribute.

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