By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The so-called “parental bill of rights,” which opponents say targets LGBTQ youth by compelling schools to tell parents when asked about their child’s sexual identity at school, will go to the House floor, likely next Thursday without a recommendation.
On a 10-10 vote out of the House Education Committee, along party lines, Senate Bill 272 moves to an uncertain future where the vote is likely to be close.
A similar bill failed in that chamber by only a few votes earlier this session.
Senate Bill 272, https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_Status/billinfo.aspx?id=1079 saw about 120 people testify both for and against the measure in an emotionally raw, day-long hearing on April 18 in Representatives Hall, the largest public hearing of this past session.
On the first sunny day of school vacation week in Concord, more than 30 educators from across the state came to the committee executive session.
Rep. Rick Ladd, R-Haverhill, chair of the committee thanked the group and the committee rose for a standing ovation, applauding the teachers who attended the hearing.
One teacher at Lin-Wood in Lincoln Thom Untersee, said the vote was expected.
“I think it was unfortunate the bill would have to pass on like this with no recommendation. It is hard to say. It was the first time I’ve been to a committee meeting like this and it was very exciting.”
Untersee said he is learning about the process, it was nice to meet other teachers from across the state and he hoped to get active before the bill goes to the House floor.
It passed the Senate on partisan lines 14-10 on March 16.
Megan Tuttle, president of the National Educators Association of NH, the state’s largest teacher’s lobby said she was also not surprised by the 10-10 vote.
She was, however, happy to see so many educators come to the State House legislative office building on their day off.
“I think we will keep fighting,” she said to ensure the bill does not pass.
State Rep. David Luneau, D-Hopkinton, the vice chair, said this is an attempt by an extreme right wing group to take positions against vulnerable students. He said he hoped the House will maintain its position.
State Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, the bill’s sponsor, said during the hearing there is a need to let parents know why their child is being bullied in school or what is going on and the legislation would allow parents to be informed if they ask.
“Parents love their children. They care about their children and they want…best for their children. Schools can’t do that,” she said. “They only have them a few hours of the day.”
“Why is it OK for a school to lie to parents? What kind of a lesson is that? Unfortunately, a lot of this conversation revolves around transgender students,” she said.
Opponents said this would particularly impact those who identify by another gender from which they are enrolled and could lead to conflicts, and suicide.
After the vote, Linds Jakows, Co-Founder of 603 Equality, said, “Now more than ever, it’s critical that everyone who supports their LGBTQ friends and neighbors contacts their state representatives and urges them to vote against this targeted attack on LGBTQ and questioning students.
“…Forced outing destroys trust between students and their teachers, and students and their parents. Our state representatives shouldn’t write laws that require teachers to insert themselves in private family conversations,” Jakows said.