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Advocates Respond to Arguments in Federal Challenge to NH Classroom Censorship Law

“Banned Concepts” Law Creates Unconstitutional Barrier to Discussions of Race, Gender, Disability, and LGBTQ topics in Schools and Public Workplaces

Today the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of New Hampshire heard arguments in the lawsuit challenging New Hampshire’s classroom censorship law, which discourages public school teachers from teaching and talking about race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and gender identity in the classroom.

The Court heard a motion for summary judgment in AFT-NH/Mejia/Philibotte/NEA-NH et al v. Edelblut et al, during which the ACLU of New Hampshire argued on behalf of two New Hampshire school administrators who specialize in diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as the National Education Association – New Hampshire (NEA-NH). These plaintiffs are represented by lawyers from a broad coalition of organizations and law firms, including the NEA-NH and National Education Association, the ACLU, the ACLU of New Hampshire, Disability Rights Center – New Hampshire, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Nixon Peabody LLP, Preti Flaherty, and Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. AFT-New Hampshire also made arguments against this classroom censorship law today, as this is a consolidated lawsuit.

The plaintiffs argued that the law is unconstitutionally vague under the Fourteenth Amendment and violates the First Amendment. Depositions and case documents revealed how the law is actively discouraging public school teachers from teaching and talking about race, gender, disability, and LGBTQ+ identities inside and outside the classroom.

“This unconstitutionally vague law disallows students from receiving the inclusive, complete education they deserve,” said Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. “New Hampshire’s classroom censorship law is an attack on educators who are simply doing their job, and through vagueness and fear it erases the legacy of discrimination and lived experiences of Black and Brown people, women and girls, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities.”

Last year, the federal court denied the state’s motion to dismiss the litigation, making it the fourth legal challenge to a “banned concepts” law in the U.S. that reached a similar finding. Laws banning similar concepts in other contexts in Florida were preliminarily enjoined on vagueness grounds in two cases, here and here, which followed another federal judge deeming impermissibly vague former President Trump’s “divisive concepts” Executive Order.

In that January 2023 ruling, the Court concluded that the law does “not give teachers fair notice of what they can and cannot teach,” adding, “[g]iven the severe consequences that teachers face if they are found to have taught or advocated a banned concept, plaintiffs have pleaded a plausible claim that the amendments are unconstitutionally vague.”

Plaintiffs Christina Kim Philibotte and Andres Mejia, who are New Hampshire school administrators, said, “As educators we know the value of nurturing an equitable and inclusive school environment where all students feel seen and heard—including in the books they read and the classroom discussions they participate in—and their humanity is recognized. This law hinders efforts to create more inclusive educational experiences, making it harder for students to comfortably speak and share their experiences on complex, relevant topics.”

“This vague and confusing law is so clearly unconstitutional that we hope the court will grant summary judgment striking it down and let New Hampshire educators teach honestly about history, gender, race or identity,” said AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes. “The divisive concepts law has forced teachers to look over their shoulders and fear that a lesson or conversation may cross some undefined line and jeopardize their career. Let’s put an end to silencing inquiry and discussion in our public schools and return to active learning that will enable students to become engaged citizens in the real world.”

“The truth matters and purposefully vague laws like this one are aimed directly at stopping educators from teaching the truth,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President. “Our students deserve an education that will help them better understand the lives, cultures, and experiences of others. But when the politicians who are writing the laws don’t value the experiences of people who are different from them, we get laws like this. Parents and teachers want to give kids the best education they can without politicians limiting what history they can learn or what books they can read. We hope the court agrees this law is unconstitutionally vague and strikes it down.”

“New Hampshire’s public school teachers work hard every day to ensure students develop the knowledge and critical thinking skills they need to be successful and contribute to their communities,” said Chris Erchull, attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “Teachers can’t do that effectively when they are subject to this vague law, with no guidance, that forces them to limit class discussions and avoid certain important topics altogether. LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and students with disabilities are being especially harmed, but the chilling effect of this law does a severe disservice to all students because their teachers can’t provide them with the complete and factual understanding of history and the people and world around them.”

Learn more about the lawsuit.

News

New Hampshire House passes two bills attacking LGBTQ+ rights; LGBTQ+, public education, and child welfare advocates respond

For the first time in years, N.H. House passes dangerous anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and sends it to N.H. Senate

CONCORD, N.H. – The New Hampshire House of Representatives today voted on four bills relating to LGBTQ+ rights, and for every bill, voted against protecting LGBTQ+ rights.

Two of the bills (HB 368 and HB 264), positive measures that would have streamlined affirmative birth certification and protected LGBTQ+ youth seeking certain health care in New Hampshire, failed. The other two bills (HB 396 and HB 619), dangerous attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, passed and are being sent to the New Hampshire Senate. These two bills would undermine the right to equal protection under the law for LGBTQ+ people by giving a license to discriminate against and segregate LGBTQ+ people in schools and other settings, as well as make it more difficult for trans teenagers and their families to access appropriate health services supported by every major medical association.

LGBTQ+ rights, public education, and child welfare advocates reacted to the votes:

Linds Jakows, co-founder of 603 Equality, said, “Today’s failure by the N.H. House to protect LGBTQ+ rights is a shameful beginning to 2024 in a state that has historically made overwhelmingly clear that it supports and respects LGBTQ+ identities. Trans kids and their families need to make private healthcare decisions that are best for them, and they shouldn’t be discriminated against and segregated in schools, carceral settings, or other spaces. We will continue to fight to ensure the rights of LBGTQ+ people are not violated by these dangerous, discriminatory bills as they make their way through the legislative process. When today’s anti-transgender bills get to Governor Sununu’s desk, he should promptly veto them, because ‘it’s the right thing to do,’ as he said when he signed New Hampshire’s transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law in 2018.”

Courtney Reed, Policy Advocate at the ACLU of New Hampshire, said, “Today is an especially grim day in New Hampshire: one where, instead of listening to transgender Granite Staters, medical providers, and clear medical evidence, New Hampshire lawmakers voted against LGBTQ+ rights on four separate bills. The two bills passed today undermine the right to equal protection under the law for LGBTQ+ people – and we urge all State Senators to oppose these dangerous bills that raise serious constitutional concerns this legislative session. Our state has made clear time and again that LGBTQ+ people belong, and after today’s shameful votes, it’s more important than ever to make the message louder and more clear than before that the Granite State respects the rights of LGBTQ+ people–and that our rights are not up for debate.”

Chris Erchull, Attorney, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), said, “All New Hampshire residents deserve to live with dignity and free from discrimination, harassment, and violence—including LGBTQ+ Granite Staters. Today the House took extreme and unprecedented action to undermine the ability of an already vulnerable group of people to live safely and freely in our state. By passing legislation attacking access to medical care for transgender youth and to roll back critical, established non-discrimination protections to exclude transgender people from public accommodations and school sports among other restrictions, legislators abandoned New Hampshire’s values of fairness and freedom for fear-mongering and discrimination. The Senate must vote down these mean-spirited attempts to divide our communities and needlessly single out transgender people for unfair treatment.”

Heidi Carrington Heath, Executive Director, Seacoast Outright, said, “Today is a hard and painful day for the LGBTQ+ youth of New Hampshire and their families. To say we are disappointed is an understatement. Today, their House of Representatives voted against the thriving, personhood, and appropriate medical care of some of our most vulnerable youth. Our core value as Granite Staters is that every person deserves to live free as exactly who they are. We are thankful for every legislator who voted in support of LGBTQ+ youth and their families. We continue to invite our elected officials to join us in working for a brighter future where everyone is understood, valued, and protected.”
 

Liz Canada, Advocacy Director, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, said, “Let’s be clear: today the House of Representatives failed to represent the people of New Hampshire. While we are deeply disappointed in today’s votes, we are so grateful for the unwavering commitment of so many elected officials, from both sides of the aisle, who continue to act in the best interest of all Granite Staters, particularly LGBTQ+ youth, no matter what.” 

Grace Murray, Political Director, New Hampshire Youth Movement, said,“It’s extremely disappointing to see the results of today’s floor votes. The House of Representatives failed the LGBTQ+ community by passing HB619 and HB396 and it’s even worse knowing that elected officials we trusted voted against trans rights. This is a ridiculous step backward for New Hampshire and our LGBTQ+ community deserves better. Young trans people deserve to get the care they need and those choices belong to them and their doctors, not state legislators. We are deeply grateful for all of the legislators who have been fighting and continued to fight until the last minute for these bills. NHYM remains committed to our vision of a New Hampshire where everyone is free to make their own medical and personal choices.”

Equal Access to Voluntary Acknowledgments of Parentage in NH

New Hampshire bill to ensure equal access to voluntary acknowledgments of parentage

New Hampshire has done considerable work over the past decade to ensure that state parentage laws protect all children and families, including children born through surrogacy and assisted reproduction. SB422 is important further work to provide that more children have access to voluntary acknowledgments of parentage – the simple, voluntary form that establishes parentage at birth.

With this update, New Hampshire will ensure that children born through assisted reproduction can have their parent-child relationships secured through VAPs, and it would align New Hampshire with federal child support guidance and all other New England states. Led by Sen. Carson, this bill is a common-sense, bipartisan provision that provides greater security to Granite State children and families.

The bill follows the 2020 NH law that ensures children of all families are protected regardless of parents’ marital status.

News

ACLU-NH and GLAD Warn School Library Book Removals Would Violate Free Speech and N.H. Constitution

Criticize Department of Education suggestions of book banning, in letter to Commissioner Edelblut

Urge school superintendents in second open letter to resist unconstitutional calls to remove books from school libraries 

View letters here

The ACLU of New Hampshire and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) today sent a letter to Frank Edelblut, the Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education (DOE), warning that his department’s communications with the Dover School District are “alarming and extraordinary,” and that the DOE’s insinuations that the District should consider whether or not to ban two books as “developmentally inappropriate” could create First Amendment concerns if such a ban occurred. 

Earlier this year, the Commissioner suggested that the Dover School District consider whether or not to ban the books Boy Toy and Gender Queer from its high school library on the basis of “developmental inappropriateness” (though Gender Queer was not actually available at that library). This suggestion came after the DOE released an unworkable, unclear, and overly broad “Objectionable Material Policy” in September 2023. The policy targets any material on “social” and “cultural” “perspectives on human sexuality,” which could result in the removal of a broad swath of books from the classroom, and in particular could target books referencing same-gender relationships.

“Any suggestion that books be banned frays the bonds of trust and cooperation among parents, schools, and students,” the two groups state in the letter. “They track politicized and partisan narratives in the larger culture, and regularly target books that discuss or depict the experiences and history of members of LGBTQ+ communities and/or communities of color. Concessions to these demands—including even moving requested titles to segregated locations or making them only available behind a librarian’s desk—undermine diversity and inclusion in our schools and raise serious legal questions.”

In the first two parts of the letter, ACLU-NH and GLAD raise concerns about the DOE’s “Objectionable Material Policy” and its correspondence with the Dover School District, laying out U.S. and state constitutional issues, and highlighting invalid and alarming segments of the DOE’s and Edelblut’s communications and policies.

The third part of the letter to the Commissioner serves as a right-to-know request to Commissioner Edelblut, requesting all documents and communications between the DOE and third parties (including school districts and parents) and internally at the DOE in several areas, including those pertaining to Gender Queer and Boy Toy, those pertaining to books that may be considered “developmentally inappropriate,” and those pertaining to the “Objectionable Material Policy.”

The two groups also sent a separate open letter to the superintendents of New Hampshire’s school districts, urging them to take a stand against censorship and protect student access to an equal and safe environment by resisting calls to remove books from school libraries. 

“We applaud the New Hampshire schools and communities that have resisted these demands, have stood with students who deserve to have their experiences represented, and have preserved our National tradition of libraries as places for all young people to learn, imagine, grow, and explore,” ACLU-NH and GLAD wrote to the superintendents.  “For those who may be considering future challenges, we urge such districts, in light of the issues detailed below, to reject these politicized efforts and allow age-appropriate and enriching reading materials to remain accessible on library shelves.” 

The letter explains how students having access to these books not only helps educate all students about the experiences of others, but also creates a more inclusive and supportive environment for students whose history and experiences are reflected. For example, for LGBTQ youth who are isolated at home, in school, or in their community, access to LGBTQ representation or information in books and literature can be a refuge. Similarly, the removal of books documenting the experiences of people of color exacerbates the unacceptable situation in which students of color are already disproportionately subject to ostracism, and it deprives them of the right to an equal educational experience. Removing books that reflect students’ experiences not only removes a form of support, but it also tells a student that they and their community are not accepted by their teachers and peers.

Read the letter to the Department of Education

Read the letter to New Hampshire superintendents

News

Transgender Worker Denied Equal Benefits Challenges Discrimination by Turbocam, Inc. and Two Harvard Pilgrim Companies

‘I’m just asking for fair coverage and to be treated the same as my coworkers,’ says Lillian Bernier

Today, GLAD filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Lillian Bernier, a transgender woman who was denied insurance coverage by her employer, Turbocam, Inc., for necessary healthcare related to gender transition. Health Plans, Inc. (HPI) and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Inc. are also named in the complaint because together they developed, administer, and operate Turbocam’s health benefits plan.

Turbocam provides healthcare coverage to workers as part of employee compensation through a self-funded healthcare benefits plan administered and operated jointly by HPI and Harvard Pilgrim. Lillian has worked as a machinist at Turbocam since 2019, including continuous work through the COVID pandemic. When Lillian sought coverage for necessary medical care she learned that Turbocam’s plan excludes any coverage for treatment related to gender transition. 

Such an exclusion singles out transgender people without any medical basis. Lillian, who supports herself and her family through her income, has had to pay out of pocket for medical expenses and even delay some critical care, to the detriment of herself and her family. By implementing and maintaining the exclusion, Turbocam is denying Lillian the same level of healthcare benefits that other employees receive simply because she is transgender. Harvard Pilgrim and HPI are supporting Turbocam in the denial of care.

“I’m proud of my work as a machinist at Turbocam,” said Lillian Bernier. “Like everyone else I rely on the pay and healthcare coverage from my job to support myself and my family. Even though I pay into the employee health plan like everyone else, I have had to pay out-of-pocket for my healthcare in addition to that, which is a stress on me and my family. I’m just asking for fair coverage and to be treated the same as my coworkers.”

The suit alleges that the exclusion of insurance coverage for Lillian’s healthcare violates federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex and disability, and New Hampshire state law prohibiting discrimination based on sex, gender identity, and disability. GLAD initially filed the discrimination claim on Lillian’s behalf with the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission, a preliminary requirement to filing the lawsuit in court.   

“Providing lesser health benefits to transgender workers is employment discrimination,” said GLAD Attorney Chris Erchull, co-counsel for Lillian Bernier. “By maintaining a blanket exclusion of coverage for healthcare related to gender transition, Turbocam is trying to sidestep the law, which they would be unable to do were Harvard Pilgrim and HPI not facilitating the discrimination. Lillian has dedicated her time and energy to Turbocam, including working onsite throughout the COVID pandemic. She is simply asking to be treated with the same dignity, humanity, and fairness as other employees.”

“Turbocam, Harvard Pilgrim, and HPI are denying Lillian equal employment benefits because she is a transgender woman. That’s wrong and it violates the law,” said GLAD Senior Director of Litigation Ben Klein, co-counsel for Lillian Bernier. “Lillian wants the same opportunity everyone deserves to support her family, take care of her health, and be treated fairly by her employer,”

Turbocam, Inc. employs more than 900 engineers and manufactures parts for the HVAC, automotive, airline and other large industries, earning nearly $200 million in 2022. The company is based in New Hampshire.

Learn more about the case

Blog

Expanding GLAD Answers’ Reach Where We’re Needed Most

GLAD Answers, GLAD’s legal information line, is busy. This year so far, we have a monthly average of 169 intakes, up from 130 per month in 2022. GLAD Answers staff can answer questions and support a high number of callers with the help of 20 GLAD Answers volunteers.

Intakes per month so far this calendar year:

January

170

February

135

March

197

April

144

May

181

June

205

July

168

August

155

September

123

From January to September, callers have needed support in the following areas:

Issue areasNumber of intakes
ID Project271
Treatment In Prison193
Violence/Harassment122
Medical Care/Access86
Employment67
Housing57
Immigration/Asylum53
GLAD Answers Coordinator Kayden Hall and Public Information Manager Gabrielle Hamel

The team, GLAD Answers Coordinator Kayden Hall and Public Information Manager Gabrielle Hamel, holds a volunteer training every six months. We just held our latest training in September with six new volunteers joining fourteen dedicated others who have stayed with us from the previous year. These committed folks who donate their time respond to emails, phone calls, and online intakes, and provide resources and information to those in need.

Our next volunteer training will take place in the spring. You can sign up now!

With so many wonderful volunteers, we are working to expand our reach to ensure everyone who GLAD Answers can help is aware of this free resource, particularly low-income and Black and Brown communities, as well as regions outside greater Boston. We invite you to share information about GLAD Answers with those in your community who may have questions about their legal rights or need information about addressing anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

This story was originally published in the Fall 2023 GLAD Briefs Newsletter, Read more.

News

New Filing in “Banned Concepts” Lawsuit Asks Court to Declare Law Unconstitutional

According to recent depositions, no state agency can say who is responsible for enforcing certain portions of the law, yet complaints made under the law have been elevated to school superintendents 

Educators describe the law’s harmful impact on their classrooms ahead of school year with it in effect

The broad coalition of educators, advocacy groups, and law firms challenging the state’s ‘banned concepts’ law this week filed new court briefs asking for an official decision in the case to declare the law unconstitutional.

Through depositions with government actors (including the Commissioner of Education, Frank Edelblut) and documents obtained in the case that have been made public for the first time, the brief highlights how the law is actively discouraging public school teachers from teaching and talking about race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and gender identity inside and outside the classroom. The current case before the court consolidates two lawsuits, one filed by the American Federation of Teachers, and another filed by educators Andres Mejia and Christina Kim Philibotte and National Education Association – New Hampshire. This consolidated case alleges that the law is unconstitutionally vague under the Fourteenth Amendment and violates the First Amendment. 

“It is clear that no one has a full grasp on what is or is not permissible under this law due to how vague it is–which in turn, negatively impacts teachers and students every day in the classroom,” said Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. “This law is an attack on educators who are simply doing their job. Through its vagueness, the ‘banned concepts’ law erases the current legacy of discrimination and lived experiences of Black and Brown people, women and girls, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities. What results is the creation of a culture of fear and apprehension where teachers self-censor, thereby limiting students’ education and teachers’ ability to comfortably and effectively teach.”

GLAD Attorney Chris Erchull, Morgan Nighan from Nixon Peabody, Gilles Bissonnette from ACLU New Hampshire, and plaintiffs Andres Mejia and Tina Kim Philibotte stand talking outside the court house.
GLAD Attorney Chris Erchull, Morgan Nighan from Nixon Peabody, Gilles Bissonnette from ACLU New Hampshire, and plaintiffs challenging New Hampshire’s “banned concepts” law, Andres Mejia and Tina Kim Philibotte

In addition to educators self-censoring due to the lack of clarification from state agencies, the brief also explains how members of the public–following the lead of several state officials’ public statements–have adopted an expansive interpretation of the law. Because a violation of the law constitutes a violation of the New Hampshire Department of Education’s (DOE) Educator Code of Conduct, the public has sent numerous complaints to the DOE about school districts promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion principles and having students read certain books discussing race and gender. Some of the complaints include those against specific books, such as Good Kind of Trouble, written by Lisa Moore Ramée, a woman of color, about a 12-year-old girl of color in a predominantly white school, or films, including one titled, “White Like Me: Race, Racism & White Privilege in America,” or other school materials. 

These complaints led the DOE to engage in varying degrees of inquiries or “initial reviews.” According to the brief, “this environment is even more challenging for educators because the DOE—including the Commissioner himself in his supervisory role—plays an active and attentive role in responding to any concerns made by purportedly aggrieved parents and community members, oftentimes elevating these concerns to school districts before there has been an investigation or assessment of whether a potential violation occurred under the Code of Conduct, or even before a formal complaint has been filed.”

Additionally, in depositions of DOE Commissioner Frank Edelblut, DOE attorney Diana Fenton, who oversees investigations of alleged violations of the Educator Code of Conduct, DOE Educator Code of Conduct investigator Richard Farrell, Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) Ahni Malachi, and HRC Assistant Director Sarah Burke Cohen, none could explain the meaning of the law or how portions of it would be enforced.

Andres Mejia and Christina Kim Philibotte, both New Hampshire educators specializing in diversity, equity, and inclusion, are among the plaintiffs in the case represented by GLAD and ACLU-NH, and argue that this vague law unconstitutionally chills educator’s voices and prevents students from having an open and complete dialogue about the perspectives of historically marginalized communities.

Christina Kim Philibotte and Andres Mejia, two New Hampshire school administrators who are plaintiffs in the case, said, “As a result of the uncertainty around the current law, instructional choices have been chilled in order to avoid enforcement consequences. As educators, we are devoted to nurturing an equitable and inclusive school environment where all students feel seen and heard. Students must see themselves in the books they read and in the classroom discussions they have to ensure that they feel valued and to ensure that their full humanity is recognized. This law hinders these efforts at creating more inclusive educational experiences. These experiences are essential to making students feel seen and validated in a secure space, and thus making them more comfortable speaking and sharing their experiences on complex topics.”

Under the American Federation of Teachers’ (AFT) First Amendment claim, the brief states that there is no dispute that the law is “being broadly applied to the private, extracurricular speech of educators—including interactions ‘in a school hallway, schoolyard, lunchroom, or library, not to mention during extracurricular activities that take place on or off school grounds.’” One DOE investigator confirmed at deposition that these impacted activities even extend to programs occurring at off-site private facilities, such as hockey rinks, that are part of the schools’ activities.

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said, “For New Hampshire’s education commissioner, the fear is the point. The facts in this case are so clear, and so undisputed, that the court can issue a summary judgment and make a ruling based on the law. Think about the teachers trying to follow competing state guidelines mandating the teaching of accurate and honest history who find themselves walking on eggshells. Think about those afraid to teach about the origins of slavery, or Jim Crow, or Reconstruction for fear of falling foul of this deliberately vague statute. Instead of impairing teaching and learning by creating confusion and chaos, N.H. policymakers should be passing laws that give students the resources and support they need to recover and thrive.”

AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes said, “This vague and confusing law is so clearly unconstitutional that we hope a judge will grant summary judgment and rule that New Hampshire teachers should be able to teach honestly about history, gender, race or identity. The divisive concepts law was sold as a solution to a problem that never actually existed. It has forced teachers to look over their shoulders and wonder if a lesson or conversation may cross some undefined line and jeopardize their career. We need to put an end to silencing inquiry and discussion in our public schools and get back to active learning, so our students are able to become engaged citizens in the real world.”

In January 2023, the federal court ruled that the case would continue, making it the fourth case across the country challenging a “banned concepts” law that reached a similar finding. Laws banning similar concepts in other contexts in Florida were preliminarily enjoined on vagueness grounds in two cases, here and here, which followed another federal judge deeming impermissibly vague former President Trump’s “divisive concepts” Executive Order.

In that January 2023 ruling, the Court concluded that the law does “not give teachers fair notice of what they can and cannot teach,” adding, “[g]iven the severe consequences that teachers face if they are found to have taught or advocated a banned concept, plaintiffs have pleaded a plausible claim that the amendments are unconstitutionally vague.”

“The truth matters,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire president. “Purposefully vague laws like this one are aimed directly at stopping educators from teaching the truth. Our students deserve an education that will help them better understand the lives, cultures, and experiences of different people. But when the politicians who are writing the laws don’t value the experiences of people who are different than them, we get laws like this one. Parents and teachers want to give kids the best education they can without politicians limiting what history they can learn or what books they can read. We hope the court agrees this law is unconstitutionally vague and strikes it down.”

Chris Erchull, Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said, “New Hampshire’s public school teachers work hard every day to ensure students can develop the knowledge and critical thinking skills they need to be successful and contribute to their communities. Teachers can’t do that effectively when they are subject to this vague law, with no guidance, that forces them to limit class discussions and avoid certain important topics altogether. LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and students with disabilities are being especially harmed, but the chilling effect of this law is doing a severe disservice to all students, when their teachers can’t ensure they gain a full, rich understanding of history and the people and world around them.”

Learn more about the case.

Parentage | New Hampshire

On July 20, 2020, Governor Sununu signed into law HB 1162, which significantly increased the protections for all families, but in particular gave LGBTQ+ families increased access to parentage protections.  

What does parentage mean?

“Parentage” means that you are a legal parent of a child for all purposes. Parentage comes with a host of rights (e.g., decision-making for medical care or education, parenting time in the event of separation from your child’s other parent) as well as responsibilities (e.g., providing health insurance, providing for basic needs, payment of child support). A secure legal parent-child relationship is core to a child’s long-term stability and well-being.

Who is a legal parent?

A biological parent who has a relationship with their child is a legal parent. An adoptive parent is similarly a legal parent. Even without a biological or adoptive connection, certain individuals are presumed to be legal parents by law. For instance, a spouse is presumed to be a parent if he/she is married to the child’s mother.

Similarly, parentage is presumed when a person “receives the child into [their] home and openly holds out the child as [their] child.” In a groundbreaking 2014 case, In Re Guardianship of Madelyn B., the New Hampshire Supreme Court established that this presumption applies equally to same-sex parents. The court also held that a lack of biological connection did not bar the application of the presumption, since the “presumptions are driven not by biolog[y]…but by the state’s interest in the welfare of the child and the integrity of the family

While this decision is an incredibly important victory for all LGBTQ+ families, having to go through a court to establish parenthood is painful and costly. 

How can New Hampshire families establish parentage?

A bill critical to ensuring expanded access to adoption, particularly for children of LGBTQ+ parents, became law July 20, 2020 when signed by Governor Sununu. Provisions in the new law, HB 1162, ensure that unmarried parents can adopt children; that LGBTQ+ parents can confirm their parentage through adoption; and that children born through assisted reproduction can have their parental relationships secured through a court judgment of parentage. A legal parent-child relationship provides a foundation for the well-being of children, and through that core relationship numerous rights and responsibilities flow, including care, financial support, and health insurance, as well as custody, parenting time, and decision making.

New Hampshire parents can establish their parentage in the following ways:

  • Giving birth (except for people acting as surrogates)
  • Being married to a person who gives birth
  • The following can obtain parentage through adoption:
    • A single unmarried person;
    • Two adults together (married or unmarried); 
    • The unmarried parent of an adoptive child;
    • In some cases, a married adult can adopt without the spouse joining in the adoption;
    • An unmarried adult with the assent of at least one of the adoptee’s parents and with the intention to share parenting responsibilities with one of the adoptee’s parents;
    • A person or persons who are parents of a child conceived via assisted reproduction as defined in RSA 168-B:1, II for the purpose of confirming the legal relationship between child and parent.
  • The following can petition a court for parentage:
    • Intended parent(s) through surrogacy
    • A person who holds the child out as their own
    • A person who has a genetic connection to a child

What is the difference between joint, second-parent (also known as co-parent) and single-parent adoptions?

A joint adoption is when both partners adopt a child together at the same time. A second-parent adoption is when one partner adopts the other partner’s child. A single-parent adoption is when a single individual adopts a child. All three of these are legal in Connecticut.

What is the advantage of doing a second parent adoption or joint adoption?

Both joint adoptions and second-parent adoptions ensure your child has two legal parents, Both married and unmarried couples can do a joint or second parent adoption. Adoption allows a non-legal parent to become a legal parent, entitled to make decisions for the child without special authorization. It also permits the adoptive parent to automatically assume custody of the child if their partner dies. Likewise, if the adoptive parent dies, the child will have the right to inherit from that parent even absent a will and may be able to collect Social Security survivor benefits.

Finally, if the couple separates, adoption ensures that both parents have the right to custody and visitation, and that any disputes will be decided based on what is in the best interests of the child rather than on who is the legal parent.

Do we need to do a second-parent adoption if we are married?

When a child is born into a marriage, New Hampshire law and the law of all states, presumes that both spouses are the parents of the child and both names are listed on the child’s birth certificate. However, this is only a presumption and can be challenged in court, so GLAD recommended that married couples do a second-parent adoption to ensure the parentage of the non-biological parent because adoption is a court judgment creating a parent-child relationship and must be respected by other states. GLAD Answers can provide referrals to attorneys in GLAD’s Lawyer Referral Service who have expertise in second-parent adoptions.

Some states, like Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont, have a second way to protect the parentage of the non-biological partner by signing a voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage. This is a form that only needs to be witnessed or notarized by the parents and so saves the expense of hiring an attorney and there is no need to make a court appearance, and yet, by federal law, this document has the same force as a court judgment. Unfortunately, this option is not yet available in New Hampshire for same-sex couples.

Does New Hampshire have laws that pertain to surrogacy?

Yes. In 2014, the New Hampshire General Court passed Senate Bill SB353, An Act Relative to Surrogacy, which updated New Hampshire’s surrogacy law to reflect advances in assisted reproductive technologies. Previously, New Hampshire law allowed surrogacy only when the intended mother’s eggs were used, and only when the intended parents were married. The new Act allows all individuals to become parents via surrogacy regardless of marital status or sexual orientation.

The Act also simplified the legal process for intended parents, establishing standardized criteria for gestational carrier agreements and ensuring that all parties are legally protected. It sets minimum requirements for gestational carrier agreements and recognizes that these agreements are legally enforceable contracts.

Here are the key elements of this law:

  1. It ensures that there is appropriate and clear statutory language that establishes updated and consistent standards and procedural safeguards.
  2. It facilitates the use of assisted reproductive technologies.
  3. It defines, confirms and protects the legal status and best interests of children born as a result of gestational carrier agreements.
  4. It protects the rights of the intended parents and gestational carrier.
  5. It ensures that all parties in a gestational carrier arrangement (GCA) are legally protected and enter into the GCA with the same rights, expectations and responsibilities.
  6. It standardizes the minimum requirements of gestational carrier agreements and recognizes that they are valid and enforceable legal contracts.

Does NH’s surrogacy law now apply equally to same-sex couples?

Yes. SB 353 is written in a gender-neutral way that should apply equally to same-sex couples seeking to use assisted reproduction in order to have a child together.

We are a gay male couple who want to have a child through a gestational surrogate in New Hampshire. What are we required to do prior to any medical procedures to impregnate the gestational carrier?

You must have a consultation with an attorney regarding the terms and potential legal consequences of the GCA before you sign it. Your attorney must be separate and independent from the attorney used by your surrogate. You must have completed a mental health consultation.

 What are the requirements for someone to be a gestational carrier?

  1. They are at least 21 years of age.
  2. They have given birth to at least one child.
  3. They have completed a physical medical evaluation in substantial conformance with the guidelines set forth by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
  4. They have completed a mental health consultation in conformance with the statutory requirements.
  5. They and their spouse or partner, if any, have consulted with an attorney regarding the terms and potential legal consequences of the GCA

Who will be the legal parents of the child resulting from gestational surrogacy?

Under the new law, the intended parents shall be the sole legal parents of a child resulting from gestational surrogacy. The gestational carrier, her spouse or partner, if any, shall not be found to be legal parents. This understanding must be included in the GCA before any medical procedure to impregnate the gestational carrier can occur

The law distinguishes between gamete(s) or embryo(s) from a “donor,” who has no parental rights, and gamete(s) or embryo(s) that may be provided by an intended parent.

What are the minimum requirements for a GCA?

A GCA must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be in writing;
  2. Be executed before any medical procedures to impregnate the gestational carrier;
  3. All parties must be represented by legal counsel, and the legal counsel of the gestational carrier and her spouse or partner, if any, must be independent from the legal counsel for the intended parents;
  4. The gestational carrier must agree to:
    1. Undergo embryo transfer, become pregnant by means of assisted reproduction, and attempt to carry and give birth to the resulting child;
    2. Relinquish all rights, obligations, and duties as a parent of the child; and
    3. Surrender physical custody of the child to the intended parent(s) immediately upon birth of the child;
  5. The gestational carrier’s spouse or partner, if any, must agree to abide by the terms of the GCA including the relinquishment of all parental rights, obligations, and duties;
  6. The intended parent(s) must agree to:
    1. Accept sole rights, obligations and duties as parent(s) of the child;
    2. Accept sole physical custody and responsibility for the support of the child upon birth;
  7. Agreement of all parties as to how reasonable compensation, if any, will be paid to the gestational carrier;
  8. Agreement of all parties as to how, if the gestational carrier breaches a provision of the GCA or the law in a way that causes harm to the child, the gestational carrier will cover her potential liability;
  9. Agreement of all parties as to how decisions regarding termination of the pregnancy shall be made.

Can the intended parent(s) get a pre-birth order declaring them to be the child’s parent(s)?

Yes. Any of the parties to the GCA may petition the court for a parentage order declaring that the intended parent(s) are the sole parent(s) of the child and directing that the birth certificate reflect that. The parties may also seek such an order after the birth of the child.

Is traditional (genetic) surrogacy legal in New Hampshire?

Yes. Traditional surrogacy is not prohibited in New Hampshire, although intended parents who pursue this path will not be able to obtain a pre-birth order to establish their parental rights.

If same-sex parents raise a child together, but only one is the “legal” parent, then what rights does the non-legal parent have vis-à-vis the child?

These are tricky cases, but a non-legal parent may be able show that they stand in loco parentis to their child, entitling them to a limited number of rights, including the ability to intervene in custody proceedings. To establish in loco parentis, an individual must show that they admitted the child into their family and treated the child as a family member, forming a “psychological parent-child relationship.”

Short of second-parent adoption, how can a family protect the interests of the child vis-à-vis their non-legal parent?

There are a number of steps that can be taken, although none offer the security of a second-parent adoption.

  • Co-parenting agreement: A co-parenting agreement is an agreement setting out the parents’ expectations about each other’s roles and their plans in the event of separation, disability, or death. While these agreements may not always be given full effect by courts, which are bound to make custody and visitation decisions based on the child’s best interests, they are important indicators of what the couple believed was in the best interests of the child and may influence a court’s ultimate decision.
  • Co-guardianship: A legal parent may choose to name the non- legal parent as a co-guardian. This process allows the non-legal parent to make the same kinds of decisions for the child that a legal parent makes, including medical decisions. The best interest of the child standard controls appointments of guardians, and a guardian must file annual reports on the minor’s welfare. This status is not permanent and any person, including the legal parent, may petition to have a guardian removed.
  • Wills: A legal parent may use their will to nominate a guardian to take custody of the child upon the parent’s death. These wishes are given strong preference by courts. However, if the child has another legal parent living, then that person will have priority over the nominated guardian.

Jóvenes | Derechos y protecciones | Nuevo Hampshire (Español)

Preguntas y respuestas sobre los derechos de los jóvenes en Nuevo Hampshire

¿Cuáles son mis derechos como estudiante LGBTQ+?

Todos los estudiantes de escuelas públicas de Nuevo Hampshire tienen derecho a lo siguiente:

  • Estar seguros en la escuela sin sufrir acoso escolar.
  • Estar protegidos de la discriminación o el hostigamiento por su orientación sexual, identidad de género o situación en relación con el VIH.
  • Acceder a información sobre personas LGBTQ+, incluidos los sitios web educativos.
  • Vestirse y presentarse de manera coherente con su identidad de género.
  • Hablar y expresarse libremente. Esto significa que usted tiene derecho a expresar ideas que pueden ofender a otras personas y a estar en desacuerdo con los demás, siempre y cuando exprese esas ideas de forma respetuosa.

Los estudiantes de todas las escuelas públicas y de muchas escuelas privadas de Nuevo Hampshire tienen derecho a lo siguiente:

  • Formar una alianza de personas gais o heterosexuales que sea tratada de la misma manera que los demás grupos extracurriculares. Esto significa que debe tener la misma financiación, acceso a instalaciones y la capacidad de elegir el nombre del grupo.

Fuera de la escuela, tiene derecho a lo siguiente:

  • Estar protegido de la discriminación por su orientación sexual real o percibida, situación frente al VIH o identidad de género en el empleo, la vivienda y las prestaciones públicas (como restaurantes o tiendas).
  • Dar su consentimiento para que le realicen pruebas de VIH sin el permiso de sus padres si es mayor de 14 años. Para obtener información más específica, consulte el Área de problemas de “VIH o sida”.
  • Denunciar ante la policía que una persona de la escuela o ajena a ella le ha causado daños, lo ha amenazado o ha vandalizado su propiedad.

¿Existen leyes que protegen a los estudiantes gais y transgénero del acoso escolar en Nuevo Hampshire?

Sí. En 2010, el Tribunal General de Nuevo Hampshire aprobó una revisión de la Ley de Seguridad y Prevención de la Violencia para Alumnos que específicamente reconoció que los alumnos LGBTQ+ o que se perciben como LGBTQ+ son uno de los grupos que históricamente han sido víctimas de acoso escolar. Ahora Nuevo Hampshire tiene una de las leyes contra el acoso escolar más sólidas del país.

La ley de 2010 exige que cada distrito escolar y escuela subvencionada adopte una política escrita para prohibir el acoso escolar y el ciberacoso que incluya lo siguiente:

  • un procedimiento para denunciar el acoso escolar;
  • un procedimiento para notificar a los padres o el tutor de una víctima, dentro de las 48 horas de la denuncia del incidente, que se pueda omitir si la escuela siente que sería lo mejor para la víctima o el perpetrador;
  • un procedimiento para investigar el incidente de forma oportuna. Para cada incidente justificado de acoso escolar, la escuela debe crear un plan de reparación que puede incluir medidas disciplinarias apropiadas contra el perpetrador, pasos para reducir futuros incidentes o represalias y, si corresponde, el ofrecimiento de asistencia a la víctima o el perpetrador. El plan de reparación también se debe comunicar a los padres o tutores de todos los estudiantes involucrados en el incidente;
  • un plan para informar, capacitar y educar a los estudiantes, el personal y los padres en relación con la política contra el acoso escolar.

Puede encontrar información detallada sobre la ley contra el acoso escolar de Nuevo Hampshire aquí: Acoso escolar y ciberacoso | Departamento de Educación

¿Las escuelas pueden regular políticas contra el acoso escolar fuera de las instalaciones escolares?

Sí. En el caso Mahanoy Area School Dist. V. B. L., además de concluir que los estudiantes tienen amplitud de derechos de habla y expresión fuera de la escuela, la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos estableció que “Las circunstancias que pueden implicar los intereses regulatorios de una escuela [fuera de la escuela] incluyen casos graves de acoso escolar u hostigamiento hacia personas particulares y amenazas dirigidas a docentes u otros estudiantes…”.

¿Nuevo Hampshire tiene lineamientos que las escuelas deban seguir para proteger a los estudiantes transgénero?

Sí, en 2015, la Asociación de Consejos Escolares de Nuevo Hampshire creó una política modelo para que los distritos escolares sigan a fin de proteger a los estudiantes transgénero y de género no binario. Consulte JBAB: ESTUDIANTES TRANSGÉNERO Y DE GÉNERO NO BINARIO

La política modelo incluye lo siguiente:

  • Las escuelas deben respetar el nombre y los pronombres de un estudiante transgénero.
  • Las escuelas deben respetar la privacidad de los estudiantes transgénero en cuanto a la información médica, los nombres anteriores, etcétera.
  • El nombre y el género en los registros de un estudiante debe ajustarse a su identidad de género.
  • Los estudiantes transgénero deben poder usar el baño, los casilleros y el vestuario correspondientes a su identidad de género.
  • Los estudiantes transgénero deben poder participar en cualquier actividad con segregación sexual (incluidas las deportivas), de forma que se ajuste a su identidad de género.

Lamentablemente, al 2020, solo 48 de los 196 distritos escolares y escuelas subvencionadas habían adoptado dicho plan, según un informe de la Unión Estadounidense de Libertades Civiles (American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU) de Nuevo Hampshire: The Case for Lived Equality in the Classroom (El caso de la equidad en las aulas).

¿La ley contra la discriminación de Nuevo Hampshire protege también a los estudiantes de escuelas públicas?

Sí, el artículo 354-A:27 de la ley de Nuevo Hampshire establece lo siguiente:

“Ninguna persona debe ser excluida de participar en las escuelas públicas, sufrir la denegación de los beneficios de las escuelas públicas o sufrir discriminación en estas últimas por su edad, sexo, identidad de género, orientación sexual, raza, color de piel, estado civil, situación familiar, discapacidad, religión o nacionalidad…”.

Para obtener más información sobre la ley contra la discriminación de Nuevo Hampshire y cómo presentar una queja por discriminación, consulte el Área de problemas de “discriminación”.

¿Existen leyes federales que protejan a los estudiantes?

Sí, el título IX prohíbe la discriminación contra los estudiantes por motivos de sexo en toda escuela o universidad que reciba fondos federales. A la luz del fallo de la Corte Suprema en el caso Bostock v. Clayton County, que determinó que la discriminación por orientación sexual e identidad de género son formas de discriminación sexual, el Departamento de Educación federal, que implementa el título IX, ha establecido que interpretará toda discriminación por orientación sexual e identidad de género como discriminación sexual.

Para presentar una queja ante la Oficina de Derechos Civiles del Departamento de Educación, consulte  Cómo presentar una queja por discriminación ante la Oficina de Derechos Civiles.

Puede presentar quejas ante el coordinador del título IX de su escuela y a la siguiente dirección:

Office of Civil Rights
The U.S. Department of Education
John W. McCormack Post Office & Courthouse, Room 222
Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109 Además, algunos tipos de discriminación y hostigamiento pueden infringir los derechos constitucionales de los estudiantes.

¿Qué puedo hacer si estoy siendo discriminado o acosado en la escuela?

Hay muchas formas de abordar el problema. Una consiste en pedir apoyo a un amigo, docente o terapeuta y hablar con las personas que lo están molestando. Sin embargo, si no se siente seguro haciendo esto, ya no sería una opción.

Consulte las políticas de su escuela e informe a la persona a la cual se debe notificar; por lo general, se trata del vicedirector o el coordinador del título IX. Debe registrar todo incidente de hostigamiento o discriminación por escrito con la fecha y la hora como mínimo. Una vez que se haya reunido con los funcionarios correspondientes, escriba notas para sus registros sobre lo que les dijo y en qué fecha, y pregunte cuándo se pondrán en contacto con usted para darle una respuesta. Si no lo ayudan o no realizan un seguimiento con usted, podría escribirle al director y al superintendente y pedirle que ponga fin a la discriminación.

Si esto falla, también puede iniciar una acción legal contra el pueblo comunicándose con la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Nuevo Hampshire o la Oficina de Derechos Civiles del Departamento de Educación. Esta es un área complicada de la ley y, además, es compleja en términos emocionales. Comuníquese con GLAD Answers completando el formulario en GLAD Answers por correo electrónico o por teléfono, al 800-455-4523 (GLAD), para hablar sobre las opciones.

¿Los estudiantes tienen el derecho de formar alianzas de personas gais o heterosexuales en sus escuelas?

Sí, tanto los estudiantes de la escuela secundaria como los estudiantes de la escuela intermedia. Una ley federal llamada “Ley de Acceso Igualitario” exige que todas las escuelas secundarias con fondos federales brinden acceso igualitario a los clubes extracurriculares. Si una escuela tiene como mínimo un club extracurricular liderado por estudiantes, debe permitir la organización de clubes adicionales y debe brindarles igualdad de acceso a espacios de reunión, instalaciones y fondos sin discriminarlos por el fin del club, ya sea religioso, filosófico, político o de otro tipo (artículo 4071 del título 20 del Código de los Estados Unidos [United States Code, USC]). 

¿Nuevo Hampshire tiene una ley que prohíbe la terapia de conversión?

Sí, en 2018, Nuevo Hampshire aprobó el artículo 332-L de las Leyes Revisadas de Nuevo Hampshire, que prohíbe a los profesionales de la salud mental con licencia realizar terapias de conversión en menores.

Las organizaciones médicas, de salud mental y de bienestar infantil estatales y nacionales se oponen a la práctica de la terapia de conversión, una práctica que busca cambiar la orientación sexual o la identidad de género de una persona. Una amplia bibliografía profesional demuestra que la práctica es ineficaz para cambiar la orientación sexual o identidad de género y es dañina para los jóvenes. Los jóvenes que se han sometido a la terapia de conversión tienen un mayor riesgo de sufrir depresión, tener ideas suicidas, intentar suicidarse y consumir drogas ilegales. Según las disposiciones de la ley, todo proveedor de salud mental con licencia que practique la terapia de conversión quedará sujeto a medidas disciplinarias por parte de la agencia de licenciamiento apropiada.

Derechos de las personas transgénero | Atención médica | Nuevo Hampshire (Español)

Preguntas y respuestas sobre los derechos a la atención médica de las personas transgénero en Nuevo Hampshire

¿Los planes de salud pueden discriminar a las personas LGBT?

En general, de conformidad con la ley federal y del estado de Nuevo Hampshire, casi todos los planes de salud tienen prohibido discriminar por motivos de sexo y, dado que el fallo de la Corte Suprema en el caso Bostock v. Clayton Co. concluyó que toda discriminación por identidad de género u orientación sexual es una forma de discriminación por sexo, casi todos los planes de salud tienen prohibido discriminar a las personas LGBTQ.

¿Qué protecciones para planes de salud establece Nuevo Hampshire?

Ley de Nuevo Hampshire

La Ley Revisada Anotada (Revised Statutes Annotated, RSA) 415:15 prohíbe “la discriminación por motivos de identidad de género con respecto a la disponibilidad de servicios cubiertos, medicamentos, insumos o equipos médicos duraderos”.

La sección VIII(b) de la RSA 417:4 prohíbe “la discriminación por motivos de identidad de género con respecto a la disponibilidad de servicios cubiertos, medicamentos, insumos o equipos médicos duraderos”.

La Ley de Declaración de Derechos de los Pacientes, en la sección XVI de la RSA 151:21, establece lo siguiente:

“No se le podrá denegar la atención médica apropiada al paciente por motivos de edad, sexo, identidad de género, orientación sexual, raza, color de piel, estado civil, situación familiar, discapacidad, religión, nacionalidad, fuente de ingresos, fuente de pago o profesión”.

Departamento de Seguros de Nuevo Hampshire

Sobre la base de las leyes que se mencionaron anteriormente, en 2020, el Departamento de Seguros de Nuevo Hampshire emitió un boletín que establecía, en parte, lo siguiente:

“… las aseguradoras tienen prohibido denegar la cobertura de servicios necesarios desde el punto de vista médico, excluirla o limitarla de otra manera por la identidad de género de una persona. Todo servicio, medicamento, insumo o equipo médico duradero que ofrezca una política o un contrato de un seguro médico se debe proporcionar a todas las personas a las cuales un profesional médico, tras consultar al paciente particular, haya indicado que los servicios son necesarios desde el punto de vista médico(…) Las aseguradoras deben basar las decisiones de cobertura en la necesidad médica y no en la identidad de género de una persona. El Departamento considera que las exclusiones generales de una política de servicios de atención médica relacionados con la transición de género u otro tipo de tratamiento para la disforia de género infringen la sección VIII(b) de la RSA 417:4 y la RSA 415:15 porque discriminan por identidad de género”.

Medicaid de Nuevo Hampshire

En 2017, el Comité Legislativo Conjunto sobre Reglas Administrativas (Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, JLCAR) aprobó los reglamentos propuestos por el Departamento de Salud y Servicios Sociales que ponían fin a la exclusión discriminatoria de la cobertura de Medicaid de cirugías de afirmación de género.

La cobertura de Medicaid de Nuevo Hampshire incluye los siguientes servicios de afirmación de género siempre y cuando exista documentación que respalde la necesidad médica:

  • Mastectomía
  • Mastoplastia de aumento
  • Histerectomía
  • Salpingectomía
  • Ooforectomía
  • Cirugía de reconstrucción genital

¿Existen planes de salud que no estén protegidos por la ley de Nuevo Hampshire?

Sí. Medicare y los planes de salud de empleadores autofinanciados (también conocidos como “autoasegurados”) están regulados por la ley federal.

¿Qué protecciones para planes de salud establece el gobierno federal?

Medicare

En 2013, Medicare eliminó la prohibición de la cobertura del tratamiento de la disforia de género por ser “experimental” y comenzó a cubrir el tratamiento necesario desde el punto de vista médico para la disforia de género.

Artículo 1557 de la Ley de Atención Médica Asequible

El artículo 1557 de la Ley de Atención Médica Asequible (Affordable Care Act, ACA) establece que es ilegal que un profesional de atención médica que recibe fondos del gobierno federal se niegue a tratar a una persona, o discrimine de otra manera a una persona, por su sexo (así como por su raza, color de piel, nacionalidad, edad o discapacidad). El artículo 1557 impone requisitos similares para las aseguradoras de salud que reciben asistencia financiera federal. Los profesionales de atención médica y las aseguradoras tienen prohibido, entre otras cosas, excluir o tratar de forma adversa a una persona por cualquiera de estos motivos prohibidos. La disposición final del artículo 1557 se aplica a los beneficiarios de asistencia financiera del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Sociales (Department of Health and Human Services, HHS), los Mercados de Seguros Médicos y los programas de salud que administra el HHS.

Por lo general, el artículo 1557 no se aplica a planes de salud grupales autofinanciados de conformidad con la Ley de Seguridad de los Ingresos de los Jubilados (Employee Retirement Income Security Act, ERISA) o planes de duración limitada o a corto plazo porque las entidades que ofrecen los planes no suelen estar principalmente comprometidas con el negocio de brindar atención médica ni reciben asistencia financiera federal.

En mayo de 2021, la gestión de Biden anunció que la Oficina de Derechos Civiles (Office for Civil Rights, OCR) del HHS interpretaría que el artículo 1557 de la ACA y los requisitos de no discriminación del título IX basados en el sexo incluyen la orientación sexual y la identidad de género, y que haría respetar esto último. La actualización se implementó en el contexto de la decisión que tomó la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos en el caso Bostock v. Clayton County en junio de 2020 y las decisiones posteriores de la corte.

Al implementar el artículo 1557, la OCR respetará la Ley de Restablecimiento de la Libertad Religiosa (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), sección 2000bb y subsiguientes del título 42 del Código de los Estados Unidos (United States Code, USC), y todos los demás requisitos legales y órdenes del tribunal que se emitieron en litigios que involucraban las disposiciones del artículo 1557.

Título VII

El título VII les prohíbe a los empleadores que tienen 15 empleados o más discriminar por motivos de raza, color de piel, religión, sexo y nacionalidad en la contratación, el despido, el pago y otros términos, condiciones o privilegios del empleo. Los términos y las condiciones del empleo incluyen los beneficios de salud solventados por el empleador. Históricamente, no todas las autoridades han estado de acuerdo en que el título VII protege a los trabajadores LGBTQ de la discriminación.

Sin embargo, la decisión de la Corte Suprema en el caso Bostock v. Clayton Co. cambia esta situación porque la resolución dejó en claro que la discriminación por orientación sexual e identidad de género es una forma de discriminación por sexo. Aunque la decisión se relaciona con el despido indebido, tiene consecuencias en los planes de salud solventados por el empleador y otros beneficios. Por ejemplo, los empleadores podrían querer ajustar la cobertura de los planes de salud grupales para la disforia de género y los servicios relacionados, incluidas las cirugías de afirmación de género, y revisar y comparar los beneficios para cónyuges del mismo sexo y del sexo opuesto.

¿Los empleadores religiosos pueden discriminar a las personas LGBT?

El 8 de julio de 2020, en el caso Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos reafirmó su posición en la implementación de la excepción ministerial en casos de discriminación en el empleo que se estableció en resoluciones anteriores. Esto implicó que, de forma simultánea, la Corte planteara una problemática sin resolver en virtud el título VII: ¿la excepción ministerial para empleadores religiosos les permite a esas organizaciones discriminar a los empleados o candidatos a puestos de empleo por su condición de LGBTQ?

En este punto, no queda claro de qué manera la resolución de la Corte en el caso Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru puede afectar a los empleados LGBTQ de empleadores religiosos, pero las organizaciones y los empleadores religiosos deberían reconocer que la excepción ministerial no se aplica a todos los puestos de sus organizaciones. Por el contrario, se limita solo a aquellos empleados que llevan a cabo obligaciones realmente religiosas. Por ejemplo, el puesto de un conserje escolar que solo está presente en el edificio fuera del horario escolar y no es responsable de transmitir la fe no se consideraría de naturaleza ministerial.

¿Qué pasos puedo seguir para obtener la cobertura del tratamiento de disforia de género?

1. Primero, verifique si su plan de salud cubre el tipo de tratamiento que desea; para ello, consiga una copia del “Resumen de beneficios y cobertura” del plan.

2. La mayoría de los planes de seguro, tanto públicos como privados, tienen requisitos detallados que se deben satisfacer para obtener la cobertura. Esto es así, en particular, si está intentando obtener cobertura para una cirugía relacionada con la transición. Por eso, comuníquese con su plan de salud y solicite una copia de los requisitos del tratamiento que desea.

3. Trabaje con sus terapeutas y médicos para asegurarse de que reúne todos los requisitos del plan de salud. Para determinar si su solicitud de tratamiento será aprobada, el factor más importante es la documentación proporcionada por sus terapeutas y médicos.

4. Verifique qué tratamientos requieren aprobación previa. En la mayoría de los casos, cualquier cirugía requiere aprobación previa y es posible que el plan solo pague si recurre a un cirujano que acepta el plan.

5. Si su solicitud de tratamiento es denegada, averigüe los motivos de la denegación y, si cree que de todos modos califica para el tratamiento, siga el proceso de apelación del plan. Por lo general, primero se llevará a cabo un proceso de apelación interno y, si no obtiene un resultado satisfactorio en esta instancia, en ocasiones, podrá apelar ante una agencia externa. Asegúrese de respetar los plazos, ya que, si no lo hace, podría perder la posibilidad de apelar.

6. Informe a GLAD si le deniegan un tratamiento. GLAD podría hacerle sugerencias que lo ayuden a ganar la apelación. Puede comunicarse con GLAD Answers completando el formulario en GLAD Answers o por teléfono llamando al 800-455-GLAD (4523).

7. Aunque ahora más planes de salud cubren el tratamiento de la disforia de género, el proceso para obtener el tratamiento, en particular, para obtener la cirugía relacionada con la transición, puede llevar tiempo y causarle frustraciones. Se necesita mucha documentación y puede ser difícil encontrar un cirujano que realice este tipo de cirugía y que sea aceptable para el plan de salud. 8. No tenga miedo de ser persistente y de volver a presentar una solicitud si recibe una respuesta negativa.

¿Cómo encuentro un cirujano que acepte mi seguro de salud?

Cada vez más cirujanos que realizan cirugías de reasignación de sexo aceptan seguros médicos. Busque cirujanos de forma minuciosa para encontrar el adecuado para usted. Puede consultar la lista de profesionales de la red de su plan para saber si forman parte de ella o si la lista incluye cirujanos en su área. Otra opción consiste en comunicarse con el consultorio del cirujano para preguntar si aceptan su seguro. La mayoría de los planes de seguro médico exigen que recurra a un profesional médico de su red; sin embargo, si su red no incluye un cirujano que preste los servicios que usted necesita, es posible que pueda recurrir a alguien fuera de la red si solicita la autorización previa del plan.

¿Qué debería hacer si el sector sanitario me discrimina?

Si está siendo discriminado por un centro o un prestador de atención médica, puede presentar una queja por discriminación ante la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Nuevo Hampshire. Consulte el Área de problemas de “discriminación” para obtener información detallada sobre cómo hacerlo.

Si tiene un plan de salud regulado por el Departamento de Seguros de Nuevo Hampshire, puede presentar una queja ante esa agencia: Departamento de Seguros de Nuevo Hampshire: presentación de quejas.

Si tiene un plan de salud regulado por el artículo 1557 de la ACA, puede presentar una queja ante la Oficina de Derechos Civiles del Departamento federal de Salud y Servicios Sociales. Para obtener más información, consulte Cómo presentar una queja de derechos civiles. Si tiene un plan de salud autofinanciado a través de su empleador que tiene como mínimo 15 empleados, puede presentar una queja por discriminación ante la Comisión federal de Igualdad en las Oportunidades de Empleo (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC). Para obtener más información, consulte el Área de problemas de “discriminación”.

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