Advocates Pleased House Killed Two Anti-Trans Bills But Five More Await in Senate

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From left are Maura Willing, Liz-Anne Platt, Linds Jakows and Deb Jacobowski at the State House in Concord earlier this month.


CONCORD – While the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted this week to kill two bills that the LGBTQ community believes target transgender students, there are still five bills alive in the Senate which are expected to be voted on in committee next week and on the Senate floor the following week.

Gov. Chris Sununu said Wednesday he will look at whatever transgender bills arrive on his desk with this question: “Is that really necessary?”

On Thursday the New Hampshire State House voted 185-176 to indefinitely postpone or essentially kill Senate Bill 341, which would have required teachers to respond to parents with written questions related to their child.

Opponents said heightened teacher surveillance and possible forced outing of students to their parents who are questioning or part of the LGBTQ community could be some of the negative consequences.

Supporters said parents deserve to not have things withheld from them related to their children, who they are charged with raising. 

The House also voted 200-154 to approve the House Education Committee’s recommendation of interim study to defeat SB 375, which would have banned transgender girls from participating on sports teams with other girls at both the high school and college level.

Supporters said girls lose scholarships and can be hurt by trans girls while opponents of the bill said trans girls are girls and this would be, effectively overturning the inclusive NH Interscholastic Athletic Association policy that has been in place since 2015.

In an interview, Friday, Linds Jakows, co-founder of 603 Equality, who in 2018 as part of the Freedom NH Campaign worked to pass the current laws which include gender rights as part of an antidiscrimination law, said there are still five bills alive, all in the Senate which if passed would work to unravel the work done six years ago and define Sununu’s legacy.

In 2018, Sununu, a Republican signed the first transgender equity measure in the country passed by an entirely Republican controlled House, Senate.

He said extending the state discrimination laws to cover gender identity, barring such discrimination for employment, housing and public accommodation was “the right thing to do” for the estimated 59,000 Granite Staters who currently identify as LGBTQ.

During a press briefing Wednesday, Sununu was asked what he thought about the bills out there on this subject this session and whether or not this is being fueled as part of a national agenda to marginalize a community of people who are transgender.

He said that there are a “variety” of bills out there right now related to transgender youth and some make more sense than others.

“I think some of the things that have been proposed are more, I look at them to say ‘is that really necessary.’ Some of the things being proposed make sense potentially and that we have talked about before. I guess I’ll just wait to see what comes to my desk. But if there were one bill I’d probably have an easier answer for that. We will see what comes to my desk and I will look at them. I understand that people can get upset over a stipulation in a bill or an entire bill itself, not just in this issue but any issue. It is not necessarily because people are attacking you or attacking your way of life or anything like that. Sometimes, a lot of aspects of these bills want to protect kids. So you have to look at that because it is always a bit different in terms of the opportunities for adults. Kids are very different and you have to make sure that you are providing the appropriate protections,” Sununu said. 

Jakows said in response to the governor’s comments that she is pleased to hear he wants to protect kids and that should also include trans girls who want to be in a safe place at school, with access to medical care that their parents are okay with, and that allow for them to play sports.

She said the ACLU is tracking more than 500 bills nationwide targeting LGBTQ and the Granite State is no exception.

She said the Trevor Project has studied negative impacts of such bills on this community, which is seen as more vulnerable to depression and suicide. A copy of that report is here

Supporters of the bills said they believe the rights of all students are being impacted by decisions to allow trans girls to play on girls’ sports teams and feel that rolling back certain aspects of the 2018 law are warranted.

Cornerstone Action has been actively supporting the bills with Shannon McGinley, executive director testifying on a number of them including House Bill 396 which is related to public accommodation based on biological sex.

On its website, Cornerstone issued a call to action and for supporters to reach out to lawmakers.

“Several pieces of legislation seeking to address the issue of protecting women’s sports are being considered by the New Hampshire General Court with one, HB 396, uniquely positioned for passage. HB 396, permitting classification of individuals based on biological sex under certain limited circumstances, narrowly survived the House and is now headed to the Senate for review.

“While other pending legislation focuses on sporting events alone, HB 396 provides for broader application by allowing ‘any person or organization, public or private’ the opportunity to make a classification based on biological sex. This level of classification flexibility and protection is not present in any of the other bills.

“HB 396 provides the most expansive framework to address these issues and has the greatest success of becoming law in New Hampshire. It is of vital necessity that the Senate pass HB 396, unamended in any way, as an important first and needed step in clarifying the state’s ability to differentiate based on biological sex. This bill will pave the way for any person or organization, public or private, to protect women in the areas of sports, prisons and places of intimate privacy.”

Opponents of the bills issued a statement following the House action, including a statement from Jakows.

“Today, the NH House affirmed that transgender girls are girls, and should be welcomed into spaces with other girls, including sports teams…Likewise, they again rejected a burdensome and overreaching requirement that teachers reveal their students’ gender and/or sexual orientation to their parents before they are ready, with no exceptions for students at risk of abuse or neglect. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Similar bills like HB 1205 and HB 1312 are heading to the Senate in the next few weeks. LGBTQ Granite Staters will rest easier when the Senate rejects those bills.” 

Jakows said it is likely that most or all of the bills 603 Equality is tracking will make it to the floor of the Senate for a vote on May 16.

House Bill 1660 related to medical care passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on a 3-2 vote this week and she said she expects the other bills, HB 619, HB 1312, HB 1205 and HB 396 to have votes in committee next week.

Courtney Reed, Policy Advocate at the ACLU of New Hampshire, said, “We applaud the many lawmakers who listened to transgender Granite Staters, the medical community, educators, child welfare advocates, and civil rights advocates, and voted against two deeply harmful pieces of legislation. It is incumbent upon all of us to build communities that help trans people, especially trans youth, know they are loved, supported, and not alone–values that were made crystal clear once again today. We urge all state senators, representatives, and Governor Sununu to oppose all other anti-LGBTQ+ bills that will soon be up for votes and to put an immediate stop to them.”

In another statement, Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-New Hampshire applauded the House votes to reject two anti-LGBTQ+ bills that would have jeopardized educational opportunities for some of our most vulnerable youth…Educators are committed to the success of every Granite State student; we will never stop fighting to ensure public schools are welcoming and safe learning environments for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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