Victory in New Jersey!
New Jersey Legislature Passes Gender Identity/Expression
Hate Crime and School Anti-Bulllying Law
[from NCTE's mailing list]
Today, the New Jersey General Assembly passed A4591/S2975 by a large majority of 65-10. This follows action last week in the state Senate where the bill passed unanimously 35-0. The law that passed will now go to Governor Corzine's desk for his expected signature.
NCTE congratulates our wonderful allies at Garden State Equality and Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ) who have continued to represent transgender people in New Jersey with Incredible skill and determination.
Basically, the bill adds gender identity and expression to the state's hate crime law and gives teeth to New Jersey's safe school, anti-bullying laws.
According to Garden State Equality specifically, "the new law does the following:
1. Adds 'gender identity or expression' as a protected class to the state hate crimes law.
2. Updates other parts of the hate crimes law by adding 'national origin' as a protected category, which thus far has been included in the law by interpreting 'ethnicity' to include such; and substitutes the more sensitive term 'disability' for 'handicap.'
3. Specifies that a 'mistake of fact' by a defendant committing a hate crime is not a defense.
4. Requires two hours of hate-crimes sensitivity training for all new police officers.
5. Specifies suggested sentencing options to which judges can sentence defendants, such as anti-hate sensitivity training.
6. Creates a study Commission on Bullying in Schools, which has nine months to investigate the problem and make recommendations to the Governor and legislature for further legislation.
7. Requires schools post their anti-bullying policies on their websites, and to distribute their anti-bullying policies, within 120 days after enactment of the law."