SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - A renowned diversity educator will deliver an informational presentation for parents and community members entitled 'What Parents Need to Know about Transgender Individuals' on Tuesday, April 23, at the John H. Stamler Police Academy on the Union County Vo-Tech campus. The free event, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is co-sponsored by the Office of the Union County Superintendent of Schools and the Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The purpose of the presentation is to help parents and other adults better understand gender identity and transgender issues, and to provide tips on how to speak with children and adolescents about these sensitive topics, as well as addressing any questions or concerns any attendee may have.

The presenter, Dr. Paula C. Rodriguez Rust of Spectrum Diversity, LLC, is a professional diversity educator and bullying prevention consultant serving schools, workplaces, and community and professional groups statewide.

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"Parents want to know what to do if a child's classmate is transgender, what to do if his/her own child is transgender," said Rodriguez Rust said. "My goal is to help parents better understand what it means to be a transgender person, and how we know if a child is transgender.”

"There is a whole new youth culture regarding gender that adults need to learn more about,” said Jo Ann Hamilton, Co-Chair of the Union County Human Relations Commission and recently retired educator. "The program is designed to provide an informational experience to help attendees learn more about the terms that we now hear, including ‘LGBTQ’, ‘gender identity,’ ‘gender expression,’ and ‘sexual orientation,’ to name a few,"

“Today’s youth are exploring their own gender identity in new ways, and it is important to understand their perspectives to the greatest degree possible,” added Commission Co-Chair Mark Spivey, Director of Communications for the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Karen Positan, Union County Human Relations Commission, at kpositan@ucnj.org or call 908-889-9028.

The John H. Stamler Police Academy on the Union County Vo-Tech Campus is located at 1776 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains.