Advocates held State House press conference this morning, just before bills attacking trans youth and LGBTQ+ people were heard

LGBTQ+ advocates, including parents, students, health care providers, faith leaders, and advocacy organizations, today gathered at the New Hampshire State House to discuss the slate of bills up this legislative session that would impact LGBTQ+ rights in the Granite State.

This year, there are a number of harmful bills that attack LGBTQ+ youth in schools and the New Hampshire community, including bills that could forcibly out youth to their parents (SB 272-FN and HB 10), a bill to ban essential medical care for transgender minors and education materials that reference LGBTQ+ people (HB 619), and one that would redefine gender-affirming health care as child abuse (HB 417). There is also a positive bill to provide protections to out-of-state patients accessing gender-affirming health care in New Hampshire (HB 368).

These bills had public hearings in their respective legislative committees on Tuesday, which began today at 9:00 a.m. with SB 272-FN.

Linds Jakows, Co-Founder of 603 Equality, said, “Today, the LGBTQ people, parents, students, healthcare and social service providers, and faith leaders who love trans people are showing up to share our stories with elected officials. We shouldn’t have to convince them that LGBTQ, and especially, trans people of all ages should live free from discrimination. But just like we have time and time again, we’ll show that an overwhelming majority of our state stands for basic freedoms in healthcare and schools, not fearmongering and misinformation.”

Abi Maxwell, New Hampshire parent, said, “Like all children, my daughter needs to be supported and affirmed at school, and she needs access to the life-saving treatment recommended by her doctors. These bills threaten all of that, and if any of them pass, New Hampshire would become an unsafe state for my daughter and all children like her. We would have to leave. How could anyone support a bill that would do that to children? That would force them into hiding or pull them from their schools, communities, friends, relatives, and the land they know. I urge people to stand up against these relentless assaults.”

Harvey Feldman, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, said, “This is the third consecutive year that LGBTQ+ people have had to come to the State House to fight for our right to make our own medical decisions, to utilize public spaces such as bathrooms safely, and to be free from discriminatory practices and laws. Let me state it clearly: gender affirming care is lifesaving care. It is accepted as best practice by every major medical and psychological body within the United States. Research and peer reviewed data tells us clearly that when youth are affirmed and supported in who they are, they thrive.”

The Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath, Executive Director of the NH Council of Churches, said, “Targeting the state’s transgender youth is a violation of the religious beliefs and principles of hundreds of churches and faith communities across the Granite State. At the NH Council of Churches our faiths compel us to advocate for, and protect the worth and dignity of every human being (especially our most vulnerable populations). All Granite Staters, particularly our youth, deserve to live free from oppression. We believe LGBTQ+ youth are made in the image of God, and we have a moral and theological responsibility to speak up when they are being harmed. As a Christian minister, I want our transgender youth to know that hundreds of people of faith across the state (including many Christians) stand with them, and we will fight to defeat any and all legislation that seeks to harm them.”

Chris Erchull, Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said, “These dangerous anti-transgender bills are part of an alarming nationwide effort to target transgender young people. A small but vocal minority are cynically using fear to divide our communities – driving a wedge between parents, teachers, librarians, and healthcare professionals who should be working together to help kids grow up; challenging sound school policies that have been proven to support the learning and development of all students; and proposing more harmful legislation like these bills every year. It is transgender kids, their parents, and their classmates who are getting hurt. New Hampshire has resisted such blatantly anti-transgender, anti-family, and unconstitutional legislation in the past and we hope our legislators do so again in 2023.”

Erin George-Kelly, Director of Waypoint Youth Services, said, “Young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are at higher risk of mental health struggles and suicide, among many other social issues. This is not inherent to their sexual orientation or gender identity, but is due to the stigma and mistreatment these youth face throughout society and often within their own families. Safe, supportive school environments, and access to affirming healthcare, can be the things that save a young person’s life.”

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 trans youth who have been disproportionately targeted by these bills, should not have to fear the potential inability to access gender affirming care, go to the bathroom at school, or live life as their true authentic selves. Regardless of their gender, youth specifically should have the freedom to be open (or not) about their identity everywhere they go.”