Hackensack, NJ – LGBTQ Nation reports that a school board trustee accused of being an anti-LGBTQ bigot has resigned from the Hackensack Public Schools Board after she subjected board members, students, and families to her “bathroom break” during a virtual meeting. Frances Cogelja made headlines over the last two years for voicing her disdain of LGBTQ people, and opposing the inclusion of LGBTQ history in curriculum starting this year, as required throughout the state of New Jersey by law. “The Trustees have received a letter of resignation from Mrs. Frances Cogelja, effective November 24, 2020,” the greeting on the Hackensack Public Schools website currently shares with visitors, “…the remaining Trustees must fill the vacancy within 65 days . . .”
On November 23, during a public comments segment of the board’s meeting – broadcast live via Zoom – Cogelja “didn’t realize she’d left her laptop camera on when she took it with her while going to the bathroom,” the Hackensack Daily Voice reports. From there, at least 150 viewers – students among them – were subject to witnessing her use of the facilities. Bylaws dictated that she couldn’t be removed from the meeting, but Board Vice President Scott James-Vickery condemned her when she returned by telling Cogelja that “you need to go.” “We’re here trying to get work done while you’re sitting on the toilet,” he said to her. Board members couldn’t unseat her on their own, but regardless, Cogelja’s resignation was received by Board President Lancelot Powell, who she allied with in elections, the next day.
In June 2019, strings of emails she wrote in February of that year to the acting Superintendent of the District were uncovered via public records requests, obtained and shared by candidates that failed to win seats on the board. “I find it repugnant that someone’s sexual preferences have anything to do with their contributions or achievements in society,” she wrote. “Everywhere I turn, this alternate lifestyle narrative is being shoved done [sic] our children’s throats. Where does it end???” Cogelja spoke in reference to discussions on the LGBTQ history curriculum for the district’s 5,700-plus students within the Bergen County School District. A law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in January 2019 made it mandatory for each school board to decide the curriculum and implement it. “We have a large percentage of kids who cannot read or do math at their grade level, and our governor thinks we should be wasting valuable instruction time on this nonsense,” her rant continued. “I am disgusted and appalled. I fear where we are headed as a nation.” She said that she has “no disdain or disgust or any other negative feeling toward people who have a different sexual lifestyle from my own,” but noted that she went out of her way to opt out her own children from the curriculum. She branded herself as proudly representing “a faith-filled family with conservative views.”
(LGBTQ Nation – Juwan J. Holmes at https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/11/school-board-member-found-proud-queer-people-repugnant-resigned-filming-toilet/?utm_source=LGBTQ%20Nation%20Subscribers&utm_campaign=5b229ed669-20201130_LGBTQ_Nation_Daily_Brief&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c4eab596bd-5b229ed669-431641925&fbclid=IwAR1vE6SI_pPtK-61VGMM9ElNTIl8YZhvYHuR5kUsDlRW2OlHdfGTZvzofPs)
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