LGBTQ+, public education, and child welfare advocates urge State Representatives to vote down attack on LGBTQ students

House Floor vote, not yet scheduled, expected to come down to a handful of votes.

Today, the New Hampshire House Education Committee voted 10-10 on SB 272, the so-called “parental bill of rights” that would forcibly “out” transgender and other LGBTQ+ students to family members regardless of whether a student is ready to have that deeply personal conversation, or if doing so would potentially put them in danger or at risk at home.

The tied committee vote means the bill goes to the full House floor vote without a specific recommendation. The floor vote is not yet scheduled, but is expected to come down to a handful of votes.

LGBTQ+, public education, and child welfare advocates released the following statements:

Linds Jakows, Co-Founder of 603 Equality, said, “Now more than ever, it’s critical that everyone who supports their LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors contacts their state representatives and urges them to vote against this targeted attack on LGBTQ+ and questioning students. When they do, they should remind their representatives that a majority of testifiers and those who signed in to state their opinion of the bill opposed it. Forced outing destroys trust between students and their teachers, and students and their parents. Our state representatives shouldn’t write laws that require teachers to insert themselves in private family conversations.”

Quincy Abramson, Executive Director of New Hampshire Youth Movement, said, “As an organization that works with young people, New Hampshire Youth Movement strongly opposes SB 272. Young people deserve autonomy and privacy in school as they navigate their identities and expressions. Teachers and students should be focused on educating and learning, not policing young people’s natural exploration of who they are. As a queer person myself, I know how essential the support of teachers and classmates is. We urge the House to ITL this bill and condemn the transphobic and white supremacist rhetoric that has been spouted in support of this bill.”

Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director, Granite State Progress, said, “As a mother of two elementary aged children, I want to know that my kiddos are accepted as who they are when they go to school. If they are LGBTQ+ or questioning and they come out to a trusted teacher or friends at school before telling me, that’s okay. The parents pushing this bill do not speak for all parents. They are using this bill to drive a wedge between students, teachers, and parents as part of a broader political agenda to silence honest discussions about race, gender, and sexuality. Bills like this have no place in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state and we will work to ensure that representatives vote down this brazen attack on trans kids.”

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 and deserve to be able to talk about their identities when and if they are ready. SB 272 would create an environment where LGBTQ+ students don’t feel safe being who they are—and in school, they should feel safe, cared for, and able to learn to the best of their ability. We urge the House to vote decisively against this legislation as it did earlier this year on a similar bill, HB 10, and make crystal clear that in New Hampshire, all students belong.”

Erin George-Kelly, Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Director, Waypoint, said: “Quite simply, SB 272 is not in the best interest of New Hampshire children. Educators, healthcare professionals, and mental healthcare professionals, are often the safest adults in a young person’s life, especially those who are LGBTQ+. This bill unfairly stigmatizes LGBTQ+ students because their journey will be policed and reported back to parents. All students deserve to feel safe in school. They should be able to trust staff members to support them, not surveil them. They should be able to access mental healthcare that affirms who they are. Forcing LGBTQ+ youth to be outed is more than harmful, it can be deadly. 25% of the youth in our shelter identify themselves as LGBTQ+. We are at a crossroads in New Hampshire, and legislators will decide – will New Hampshire be a place of discrimination, targeting, and increased harm for youth, or will New Hampshire be a place that supports all young people – where people of all races, genders, and families can come together and thrive?”

Chris Erchull, Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said: “The House must vote this bill down. SB 272 purposely and unfairly singles out transgender and gender nonconforming youth to be surveilled and reported on by school staff, in violation of a core principle of our state and federal constitutions—that we all come before the law as equals. It is one of more than 500 bills filed nationwide in a coordinated attack by extremists to restrict the rights of transgender people and does not represent New Hampshire’s values of freedom and fairness. If SB 272 becomes law, transgender and gender nonconforming students, an already vulnerable group of young people, will not have the same opportunities to seek the support they need and deserve to learn and thrive in school.”

Deb Howes, President American Federation of Teachers, NH, said, “It was truly disappointing that more members of the House Education Committee were unable to do the right thing for the majority of students in NH and keep our Granite State public schools safe and welcoming spaces where all can learn and thrive. We thank the 10 education champions who stood up to balance the rights of students to grow, thrive and be themselves against the valid rights of parents to direct their children’s education. There is a difference between directing your child’s education, micromanaging it, and forcing others to act as surveillance agents on threat of lawsuits. As educators, we also object to this bill because it forces us to behave in a manner that is discriminatory against students who are members of the LGBTQ+ community or suspected by their parents of being in the LGBTQ+ community. Discrimination is always wrong. We look forward to bringing this to the House floor.”

Megan Tuttle, President National Education Association, NH, said, “We want all students to have the freedom to be themselves and to pursue their dreams. But today in New Hampshire and across the country we have politicians fueling divisions by passing laws that erase our history and punish educators for doing our jobs. These politicians are exploiting the lack of familiarity with LGBTQ+ students to distract us from their own failures to deliver for our families and communities. We know that bills like SB 272 make it harder for educators to do their jobs and to be genuinely engaged with parents. We’re not fooled by these politically motivated tactics as they target specific populations of students. This bill contains overly broad language, and contains an overly high bar for educators to meet when there may be situations of abuse and neglect, particularly when teachers lack the training to identify abuse and neglect. Coupled with the fear of potential litigation, it’s no wonder that the Office of the Child Advocate called this bill overly broad. This bill allows a small group of parents to infringe on the rights of other parents and their children. Our LGBTQ+ students need us to ensure our schools are places where all students are protected and empowered. We know that true learning only happens when everyone can be their authentic selves. We will not fall for the politics of division and distraction.”

Emma Sevigny, Children’s Behavioral Health Policy Coordinator, New Futures, said, “In short, this bill has harmful implications for all Granite State youth, especially LGBTQ+ youth. It would prioritize parents’ rights above children’s, which could prevent youth from establishing support networks outside of their families. Students who confide in a guidance counselor, club advisor, or coach would no longer be able to trust that their information remains private, which may make students less likely to confide in a safe adult or seek the guidance of mental health professionals. Yet, data shows that children who have support systems outside of their families have better behavioral health outcomes, especially if they have been exposed to adverse childhood experiences at home.  We urge state representatives to vote down this dangerous bill.”

Visit the advocacy page to learn more about the bill and take action.