Parent Notification and Student Trans Sports Bills Mostly Opposed in Panel Hearings

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Sen. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton, is pictured testifying Monday before the House Education Committee.


CONCORD – A school parental notification bill and one that would separate high school and college athletic teams by biological gender at birth received lengthy hearings in the House Education Committee Monday with opponents far outnumbering supporters.

The Senate has passed both SB 375 on sports and SB 341 on parental notification along partisan lines leaving the almost equally divided House of Representatives to likely decide whether the controversial measures get to the governor’s desk, and thus, adding to a national debate on LGBTQ youth issues.

Opponents said students would lose a trusted adult they can now confide in under SB 341 and would be particularly harmful to LGBTQ youth. They said those students who may be considering their gender identity but not be ready to tell their parents may be willing to talk to a trusted teacher. This law would force the teacher to “out” them to their parents, damaging both relationships and identity.

Supporters said the bill would just allow parents to better parent their child, arguing their relationship is more important and will last longer than that of a teacher.

The sponsor, Sen. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton, a parent of four, described it as a simple “process bill” which would require teachers to respond to a written request for information within 10 days.

If they do not respond in a “complete and honest” way, state accredited educators could face possible discipline under their code of ethics, Lang said.

He said he was surprised by the opposition saying he did not know it would be hard for teachers to be honest with parents.

Within the bill is what Lang called an “escape clause” which would preclude such communication if such disclosure to parents could put the child at risk. 

It passed 13-10 in the Senate along partisan lines on April 5. A copy of the bill is here.

Close to 40 people signed up to speak to Senate Bill 341, before the House Education Committee Monday.

They spent the morning hearing from those individuals with fewer than 10 in support.

They then spent the afternoon on Senate Bill 375 which would prohibit boys from playing on girls sports teams in New Hampshire. That bill also passed the Republican-controlled Senate and was amended. Here is the bill.

Lang also introduced the latter bill and said this measure would allow girls and women to not be injured or lose scholarship opportunities to someone who is not biologically born a girl.


This bill seeks to require that what your birth certificate shows, you will be assigned to any sporting teams that are all-female or all-male at the public high school and college level.

Some members of the committee had questions about how different people have different attributes and how far would the state be taking differences in individuals, as it relates to sporting activities if it passes.

Sen. Lang said biological girls are at a competitive disadvantage to biological boys.

He said he was worried about one student being denied a scholarship because they were competing with someone from another birth assignment for that same opportunity.

Chris Erchull, an attorney representing GLAD, legal advocates and defenders for the trans community, said a decision last week by the federal Fourth Circuit reversed a lower court decision and made a similar sports ban invalid in West Virginia.

He said therefore, Senate Bill 375 is unlikely to survive a legal challenge.

No trans student has accepted a scholarship to date, he said.

In 2015 NHIAA revised its requirements for trans students competing and the new eligibility requirements put forth reasonable guidelines, Erchull said, and they ought to be making the call rather than the legislature.

Asked about the NCAA, he said it has a policy evolving over time which allows trans individuals to compete and this bill would override that policy, Erchull said. 

State Rep. Loren Selig, D-Durham, said the bill is “discriminatory and hurtful” and urged the committee to oppose it.

Linds Jakows of Dover also opposed the bill saying that individuals have variations in size and strength regardless of birth sex.

Jennifer Black of Windham, a former female student athlete, came in support of the bill. 

She said it is mostly a one-way street where boys want to play on a girls’ team, leaving girls with fewer opportunities as a result.

“Women fought long and hard to have girls sports of their own,” she said and asked the committee to support women and girls by supporting the bill.

Sarah Tirrell of Plymouth, a parent of a trans athlete, urged inclusive sports environments. She had a petition signed by over 200 which she submitted.

Injuries are not rampant due to trans athletes, she said.

Two high school athletes also spoke in opposition, including her daughter.

Parker Tirrell, 15, a student at Plymouth Regional High School, said she is “not a threat to girls” and enjoys being on the girls freshman soccer team. She said she felt she could not safely play on a boys team.

“Stand on the right side of history,” she urged the committee.

Asked if she had any issues with other members on other teams?

She said “no.”

Maelle Jacques of Newbury, a trans student athlete at Kearsarge Regional High School, said all athletes and coaches have been positive toward her in sports and the only negative she has encountered has been from some members of the media.

She said being a part of a team has allowed her to “feel normal.”


Students deserve to be safe at school, said Heidi Carrington Heath of Seacoast Outright, which advocates for LGBTQ saying Senate Bill 341 puts that population at risk.

The bill would require teachers to “out” students to their parents, she said, before they are ready and would injure relationships between teachers and their students.

Debrah Howes, president of the American Federation of Teachers in NH serving 3,700, said the bill is too vague and would put parents in a position of not ever answering adequately.

“It is not in the best interest of our students,” she said and would create a climate of fear and lead up to endless information gathering on their students to answer to a parent in the way the bill requires.

Pamela Sinotte, of Concord, a licensed independent clinical social worker for 26 years, said she was concerned about the language of the bill saying it was “harmful and unnecessary.”

She asked how the teacher would be able to determine whether or not disclosure would put the child in harm’s way.

Emotional abuse can take many forms at home, she said, and while there are provisions in the bill, abuse is not defined clearly.

Nancy Biederman of New Boston was among those who supported the measure.

She said teachers are not the kids’ friends and they are not surrogate parents either. 

Parents’ rights don’t end at the school door, she said, and a parent has the right to direct their children in these decisions.

“If teachers are concerned with something going on they have a duty to report,” she said.

As a teacher, she said she has not ever lied to a parent.

“Pass this bill.”

Peter Hanson, Pembroke, a father of five children also supported the bill.

“Let’s be honest, here, the trust between parents and schools is already broken,” he said. “We’re talking about underage, minor children who have not fully developed their brains,” he said. “The parents have the right to know what is being talked about,” Hanson said. “We can’t be naive enough to think all teachers are going to do the right thing.”

Courtney Reed, policy advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, opposed the bill because she said it would create an unlimited burden of what “honesty” means for the schools to decide.

This bill isn’t about honesty, she said. 

“It’s about putting teachers in an impossible situation.

Emma Sevigny, children’s behavioral health policy coordinator at New Futures, said the organization opposes the bill. 

She said rates of depression and suicidal ideology are very high for LGBTQ youth. When they feel supported they have mental health outcomes on a par with their peers. 

If they are “outed” to their parents by others, it can be very damaging. 

Michelle Veasey, executive director for the NH Businesses for Social Responsibility, said the bill could negatively impact the economic situation of the state and mean fewer workers and perhaps events planned here.

The House Education Committee did not immediately vote on recommendations for the bills to the full House.

Paula Tracy is’s senior writer and has been a reporter in New Hampshire for 30 years.

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