Senate Republicans Back Excluding Transgender Girls from Girls Sports in NH Schools

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Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, is pictured at the podium for Friday's session.


CONCORD – Accusing Senate Republicans of “shocking and extreme moves” Friday, Democrats criticized two 14-10 votes in which transgender girls would be prohibited from playing girls public high school and college sports in New Hampshire and one that creates a process for parents across the state to ban books in schools.

The girls sports bill, Senate Bill 375, which now heads to the House of Representatives, passed 14-10.

The book bill Senate Bill 523-FN related to parents and books in school libraries now heads to the House.

Though Republicans said it was not a “book ban,” as some had described it, it creates a process for parents to use to complain about books in schools.

Democrats were not pleased with either vote.

“Senate Democrats stand with our LGBTQ+ community members, especially students, across the state, who will suffer needlessly as a result of these harmful pieces of legislation. We will never give up the fight to ensure all Granite Staters are treated with dignity and respect,” read a statement sent out at the end of the long day by the Democratic caucus.

The Senate majority also expanded the Education Freedom Accounts in Senate Bill 442-FN. 

The three-year-old program has grown to more than 4,200 students taking advantage of up to $5,000 in state funds to attend charter, private and home schooling.


State Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said the school sports bill is about safety and fairness while state Sen. David Watters, D-Dover – who gave historic examples of gender nonconformity issues threatening the “body politic” over time – said what concerns him is that some people are more concerned about excluding others.

“All these athletes want is to be accepted for who they are,” Watters said.

He said he fears we enter another period of “border” thinking where another on the other side might see themselves somehow losing out.

“I want to say to our trans and gay legislative colleagues, ‘Stay fierce. Stay fabulous,'” Watters said.

The bill requires public schools to designate sports as male, female, or co-ed. It applies to New Hampshire public schools grades 6-12, the New Hampshire University System and Community College System of New Hampshire, to prohibit students who are male at birth from participating in female sports.

It also requires that locker rooms used for games be separately designated for use by males and females. This would not apply to kindergarten through 5th grade, intramural sports, private schools, and colleges. 

Senator Kevin Avard, R-Nashua, is the prime sponsor of the bill.

Currently there are 25 states with similar laws and many looking to enact similar measures.

Sen. Debra Altschiller, D-Straham, who was among three senators who participated remotely from home, asked Sen. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem if he considered transgender girls as “girls.” 

Abbas said he did respect someone’s wishes in a social setting but not in sports.

Sen. William Gannon, R-Sandown said he has coached both gender teams for his children and mixed gender and at a certain age, at about sixth grade and beyond he said, the boys are stronger and the girls are in danger. 

A strong trans girl will compete against and win over a biological girl, he argued.

But Sen. Donovan Fenton, D-Keene, said not all athletes are the same size regardless of gender and the bill is fundamentally discriminatory.

He suggested the matter be left to the NH Interscholastic Athletic Association which now determines eligibility requirements.

Sen. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton, said gender does not appear in the bill but biological sex does.

He said it does three things for women’s sports: it protects safety, fairness and opportunities.

Sen. Sue Prentiss, D-Lebanon, read a letter from a Plymouth Regional High School student and concluded urging them to “Let Parker play.”

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, attending remotely, said what we must be most concerned with is the stigma created by doing this. 

Athletic contests, he said, as a longtime coach and teacher, create positive experiences that people should not be prevented from engaging in.

Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton, said she agreed with D’Allesandro and shared statistics from the Washington Post citing FBI data that hate crimes rose dramatically targeting LGBTQ students in states that have enacted such restrictive laws.

“If we are really concerned about safety,” she said, “let’s stand up for all of our kids.”

Avard issued a statement following the vote that “we want to protect the safety and opportunities of female athletes. That is what this bill does. In New Hampshire and across the nation, a growing number of biological males are joining middle and high school girls and college women’s sports teams. This defeats the purpose of Title IX, which has expanded opportunities for women’s sports across the nation over the past 50 years. This makes contact sports more dangerous, unfair for other sports, and snatches opportunities away from female athletes by destroying a level playing field on which athletics rely.”

Another bill, Senate Bill 524, relative to women’s sports was voted to interim study as it was deemed unnecessary and in some cases duplicative of Senate Bill 375.


Senate Bill 523-FN which establishes a process for parents across the state to review and appeal books in their public schools, is not a “book ban,” said Sen. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton.

Despite opposition by all Democrats, it passed on a vote of 14-10.

While Lang and the committee made it a better bill, Prentiss said she did not support it and other Democrats said they feel the process could get out of control leading to every book being questioned.

Prentiss qualified that she does not feel all books are appropriate for all ages. But she objected to one parent choosing for another what others can read.

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, spoke against the bill noting the state library association opposes the legislation. The bill puts an undue burden on the staff, he said.

Avard said it is a good bill that empowers parents and is not a “book ban.”

Sen. Shannon Chandley, D-Amherst, said a free exchange of ideas is central to Democracy and to allow this is to “allow our children to bear the costs” and that Democracy will suffer.

Asked by Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, if Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was considered inappropriate for a grade level by a parent, Lang said it would be up to the principal to decide and they would be given a timeline for an answer. The parent could then appeal the decision to the school board.

Chandley said she can see the possibility that every book could be brought up under this process.

Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said this is only trying to create a process to voice concerns, not ban books.

She said during COVID-19, some parents would not be allowed to speak about the books in schools before school boards.

Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said he is not sure third graders need obscenity in their library books and said he feels parents need redress for that.

Following the vote, a joint statement was issued by Democratic Senators Chandley, Prentiss and Fenton:

“A foundational aspect of our democracy, of learning, and of developing as a human being is the free access and exchange of ideas. In the United States of America, and especially in the Live Free or Die state, we depend on the freedom to access and express ideas even if we do not agree with them. Therefore, it is concerning that Senate Republicans moved forward today with what can only be described as a book ban. 

“SB 523 will allow a parent to challenge any school material and then give authority to the principal or school board to ban that material. Furthermore, under this proposal there is no path to allow for any other parents to appeal a ban.

“As our schools are at their best when teachers, parents, and students all work together, we as legislators should be focused on fostering productive and vigorous conversations in our communities and schools, not creating pathways for increased rhetoric, dangerous divisions, and book bans.”

The Republicans released their own statement from  Avard: “School librarians have broad amounts of discretion to stock their libraries, but like all public employees, their decisions are overseen by elected officials. School boards ultimately are responsible to their voters. This bill requires each New Hampshire school board to adopt policies describing what material is authorized and accessible for students. The policy must also be posted on the school’s website to help increase transparency for parents. The State of New Hampshire would not be telling schools which books are allowed and which are not. This bill creates a process for parents to object to materials they believe are inappropriate for their child’s school library. This new process is a victory for additional transparency in education.”

Then the Democratic Caucus sent out an end of the day comment.

“Today, Senate Republicans unilaterally passed bills that will not make our state a better, more inclusive place to live, but instead serve to further divide us with dangerous rhetoric and discriminatory government overreach. 

“SB 341 will forcibly out teenagers before they are ready to talk to their parents and SB 375 will ban transgender girls from playing on the sports team that corresponds with their gender identity. Those are shocking and extreme moves by Republicans and will put our LGBTQ+ community at risk.

“Our LGBTQ+ community deserves respect, dignity and the ability to live their lives without discrimination. In 2018, the Legislature along with Governor Sununu passed a law adding gender identity to our state’s nondiscrimination statute, affirming our commitment to recognize the personhood of every member of our state regardless of how they identify. This was an incredible step forward for our state to treat all residents with humanity and respect. Our state has historically expanded protections for our LGBTQ+ community, not targeted them. Seeing those efforts damaged by Senate Republicans’ discriminatory actions today is devastating, and represents the first time in modern history that our state has taken away the rights and protections of LGBTQ+ Granite Staters.”


Democrats called Senate Bill 525-FN a taxpayer accountability bill for the Education Freedom Accounts, which when designed three years ago was meant to allow children from families with limited means, some finances to help attend alternative private and charter schools.

Altschiller said millionaires can get EFAs so long as they get in the program on year one when their annual household income was less than or equal to 350 percent of federal poverty limit.

Verifications after that do not exist in following years, she insisted calling the program an “unlimited money grab facilitated by an out-of-state clearinghouse” which oversees the program.

She called it a “wildly irresponsible sham.”

Despite her concerns the bill was killed on party lines with Republicans outnumbering Democrats 14-10.

Lang reminded that only three years ago, EFAs were created and the program is still being studied and audited. He suggested a wait “till we see what performance audit shows” and prevent children being treated “like ping pong balls” moving them in and out of schools based on family income.

He said in a statement 44 percent of participating students qualify for free or reduced lunch, delivered the education that parents wanted at a one-quarter of the cost to taxpayers, and kept the average cost per student under $5,000.

“Yet for the past three years, we have fought efforts to repeal and restrict one of the most successful programs in New Hampshire history. This bill threatens to strangle the EFA program with overregulation. SB 525-FN would demand annual income verification for participating families, limit funds from rolling over from one year to the next, and implement a wave of audits on 1,400 New Hampshire families yearly. We do not want to create a miniature IRS within the Legislative Budget Assistant’s Office.  The fact is that this bill would make it harder for Granite State families to look for the best education for their children.”


Senate Bill 538, also known as the “HOMEnibus,” passed relative to zoning procedures concerning residential housing.

The Senate Democratic Caucus issued the following statement:

“New Hampshire’s housing crisis and the need to develop affordable housing options for our residents is a top issue for our constituents. The high cost of housing and the dangerously low vacancy rates impact endless facets of our state and the lives of those who live here. Without the appropriate levels of housing stock, businesses will continue to face a tight job market, stunting our economic growth. This also means individuals and families must have hard conversations about their futures- whether they can afford to start a family, where they can afford to live, and what opportunities they can take on, like running for or serving in one of our many volunteer positions and agencies across the state.

“Senator Perkins Kwoka’s SB 538, also known as the HOMEnibus, will be another tool in our state’s toolbox of combating the affordable housing crisis. As an enabling piece of legislation, with the passage of this bill, our communities will have the ability to be more adaptive to their individual needs and allow for increased opportunities when it comes to their zoning structures.

“We are proud of the work Senator Perkins Kwoka has done to bring this important legislation forward. The HOMEnibus will make a meaningful difference in our housing crisis, and the Senate Democrats will continue to work to develop solutions to the real problems Granite Staters are facing.”


The Senate also voted on a bill limiting locations for wakeboarding in Senate Bill 431 as amended and on a voice vote with no debate. 

No wakeboarding would be allowed within 200 feet of shore and no wakeboarding on bodies of water smaller than 50 acres is in the bill, with another bill on the same issue in the House which brought out crowds to a hearing. This bill heads there now.


Passed and headed to Finance is Senate Bill 556-FN which impacts about 2,800 advanced practice registered nurses. It increases reimbursements rates and makes the state more attractive and competitive, said Prentiss.

Also headed to Finance after passage was Senate Bill 459-FN relative to the presumption of harm under the child protection act.

A number of other bills were special ordered to the next session and the Senate concluded for the day at about 5:30 p.m.

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