NH House tables HB 10, a bill targeting queer youth, in 193-192 vote

A coalition of LGBTQ+ organizations, child welfare advocates, and public education leaders today commended the New Hampshire House for voting against the harmful, so-called “Parental Bill of Rights” in a 193-192 vote. Although lawmakers can still take HB 10 “off the table” and attempt to pass it again by the end of the session day tomorrow, the coalition applauded the votes taken this morning, which rejected the motion to pass the bill along with harmful amendments. Taking the bill off the table today or tomorrow would require a simple majority, but after tomorrow, a vote to remove it from the table would take two-thirds of the state legislature.

Today’s vote on HB 10 follows the New Hampshire Senate’s passage last week of a similar bill, SB 272, which will now head to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. SB 272, just like HB 10, would be detrimental to the health and security of LGBTQ+ students, and could lead to the forcible outing of students by mandating that teachers and counselors disclose confidential records with no regard for whether it puts a student in harm’s way. It also specifically singles out transgender youth for a special tier of surveillance in schools, violating students’ privacy rights.

This vote also coincides with the 11th anniversary of the unsuccessful attempt to repeal same-sex marriage in New Hampshire.

Members of the broad coalition in opposition released the following statements:

Linds Jakows, Co-Founder of 603 Equality, said, “When I testified against this bill, I did it for my younger self and thousands of young people in New Hampshire who need trusted adults to support who they are. Every LGBTQ person needs to come out on the timeline that feels safest to them. I’m so glad today a majority of legislators recognized the need to listen to, learn from, and believe, LGBTQ+ students. We look forward to them doing the same when they vote on the Senate version of this bill, SB 272.”

Chris Erchull, Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said, “A majority of New Hampshire representatives understand that HB10 is an unnecessary and dangerous bill that singles out transgender and gender nonconforming students for targeted surveillance. Parents already have opportunities to partner with schools on the education of their children, as they should. Rejecting this proposal that would take away important sources of safety and support from kids is the right move for New Hampshire.”

Courtney Reed, Policy Advocate at the ACLU of New Hampshire, said, “Hostile legislation that unfairly targets and discriminates against LGBTQ+ youth has no place in the Granite State. LGBTQ+ people, and in particular the trans youth who would be disproportionately targeted by this bill, should not have to fear being themselves at school. Regardless of their gender, youth specifically should have the freedom to be open (or not) about their identity everywhere they go. We thank the state representatives that voted to oppose this harmful bill.”

Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director for Granite State Progress, said, “Our schools should be places of belonging, where all children have the freedom to learn in a safe and affirming environment. As a mother myself, I want my children to be valued in every space they are in. Coming out to a parent is a big moment in a child’s life. Regardless of how parents feel about their children’s identity, teachers and school officials should not be put in the position to interfere with that parent-child relationship. We also know that for some students, coming out puts them in serious danger at home. We have a responsibility for the safety of our students.”

Deb Howes, President, AFT-NH, said “The tabling of HB 10 shows that the Granite State doesn’t support extremist politicians’ efforts to wage culture wars in our public school classrooms. Students and families deserve a state government and Legislature that is laser focused on ensuring that our public schools have the resources and staff they need to provide a robust variety of academic programs and the appropriate social and emotional support all students need to thrive. The proposed parental bill of rights legislation was a shameful effort straight out of a culture war handbook, rather than a sincere effort to enable teachers and parents to work together in the best interest of students. Today was a victory for keeping our public schools safe and welcoming for all our students!”

Megan Tuttle, President, NEA-New Hampshire, said, “Parents and voters agree that our public schools should be safe, inclusive and welcoming places. By targeted LGBTQ+ students, HB 10 would have compromised that environment and driven a wedge between parents and school personnel. Parents and educators have been working well together for a long time in New Hampshire. We should be passing legislation that supports this relationship, not fractures it with the threat of criminal penalties and license revocation. We have a widely reported shortage of educators in our classrooms. Passing a law like HB 10 with the penalties and vague, confusing and contradictory language it contained only serves to dissuade people from entering or remaining in this profession.”

Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath, Executive Director, NH Council of Churches, said, “The defeat of HB 10 today is a faithful move to support all of NH’s students (particularly LGBTQ+ students who are especially at risk). We believe every child is made in the image of God and deserve access to spaces and places where they can thrive. Ensuring students can engage sacred conversations about identity on a timeline of their own choosing allows that to happen. The parent-child relationship is built on trust, and not unnecessary interference.”

Erin George-Kelly, Director, Youth Services at Waypoint, said, “People may assume that establishing a parents’ bill of rights means connecting loving, caring, and supportive parents with what is occurring within their child’s educational setting. However, the reality is that, had HB 10, establishing the parental bill of rights, passed today, some LGBTQ+ children would be put in danger of neglect and abuse at home, or of homelessness when their parents do not approve of their sexual orientation or gender identity. New Hampshire’s children deserve better.”