NH Senate Advances Two Anti-LGBTQ Bills Targeting Rights of Transgender Granite Staters

Advocates detail harmful nature of these bills and urge all NH House members to oppose them

Today, the New Hampshire State Senate voted on party lines to advance two pieces of hostile legislation specifically targeting the rights of transgender people to live their lives on the same terms as other Granite Staters: SB 341 and SB 375. SB 341 was passed 13-10, with Senator Denise Ricciardi absent and arriving after the vote. SB 375 was voted Ought to Pass with Amendment 14-10. 

SB 341 would create a new obligation for educators to surveil students and provide that information to parents, diminishing students’ opportunities to talk to trusted adults about issues, including their gender identity or sexual orientation. SB 375 would ban transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports. 

SB 562, which was listed on the Senate Calendar for a vote Friday, was “special ordered” to the next Senate session. SB 562 would have rolled back key provisions of the 2018 law against discrimination that was updated to include transgender people, promoting the exclusion of transgender people from sports, including recreational leagues, as well as restrooms. The bill would also subject transgender people to carceral settings where they would be more likely to face violence on the basis of their gender identity. 

The New Hampshire State Senate also voted to interim study SB 524, another attempted ban on transgender girls’ participation in sports, on the basis that it duplicated SB 375, which effectively killed the bill. SB 304, which would have created a medical cause of action for people who “detransition,” which would have made practicing gender affirming care more legally risky for providers, was also voted “interim study” after receiving a negative committee recommendation. 

These bills would violate the rights of LGBTQ+ Granite Staters under state and federal law as well as increase the discrimination and harassment they already face. They would also negatively impact educators, and impact non-transgender students who are gender nonconforming. These bills now move on to the New Hampshire House.

Below are statements from LGBTQ+, public education, and child welfare advocates:

“When I was in high school, it meant the world to me to come out as queer to my favorite teacher and friends at school before I felt ready to come out to my parents,” said Linds Jakows, Founder of 603 Equality. “But if this law had been on the books when I was growing up, I wouldn’t have felt safe testing the waters at school before having a much more difficult conversation at home. Politicians need to stop inserting themselves in the relationship between students, parents, and teachers, and let these conversations happen on their own timeline. New Hampshire has had a policy of allowing all girls, including trans girls, to participate in sports since 2015. It’s deeply disappointing that lawmakers would spend time taking away opportunities from young people, and spread misinformation, rather than allow transgender people to find joy and belonging.” 

“Today the Senate took a huge step backward when it comes to fairness, safety, and the ability of all Granite Staters to live free from discrimination. The bills passed today would harm students and families and disrupt education. This state has rejected these extreme, unworkable proposals in the past, and the House should uphold New Hampshire’s values by doing so again.” said Chris Erchull, Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

“We are deeply disappointed by today’s Senate votes, which make clear that lawmakers have failed to listen to transgender Granite Staters, the medical community, educators, child welfare advocates, and civil rights advocates and vote to support the rights of trans and nonbinary people,” said Courtney Reed, Policy Advocate at the ACLU of New Hampshire. “It’s incumbent upon all of us to build communities that help trans people, especially trans youth, know they are loved, supported, and not alone. We urge the N.H. House to put an immediate stop to this deeply harmful legislation.”

Erin George-Kelly, Director of Youth Services with Waypoint said, “The Senate’s passage of a number of bills today dealt a harmful blow to the health and wellbeing of NH’S LGBTQ+ young people. Our youth deserve better. Young people that identify as LGBTQ+ are at higher risk of mental health struggles and suicide risk among many other social issues. This is not inherent because of 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 schools and communities are often the thing that save a young person’s life. Unfortunately, New Hampshire took a step to decrease access to such safety today.”

“Today’s votes show that the majority of our senators are not listening to the needs of trans students and are actively ignoring the wishes of many of their constituents. Trans youth in New Hampshire deserve a safe place to exist, have fun, play sports, and be themselves,” said Grace Murray, Political Director of New Hampshire Youth Movement. “Trans students and trans Granite Staters as a whole are not going anywhere and they will continue to exist in our state even in the face of discriminatory legislation such as this. Our lawmakers should focus on making NH a good place for everyone instead of prioritizing their personal political agendas.”

“These laws will inflict lasting harm on transgender Granite Staters, compounding the difficult challenges of isolation and discrimination many trans individuals already face,” said Liz Canada, Advocacy Director of Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “These bills flagrantly strip transgender people of autonomy over their bodies and are direct assaults on the fundamental freedoms and privacy rights that all Granite Staters cherish.”

“New Futures is disheartened that the Senate chose to pass two anti-LGBTQ+ bills today. When young people feel supported and welcomed in their homes, schools, and communities, their mental health outcomes are on par with their peers. Discriminatory bills like the ones passed today directly contribute to poorer mental health outcomes for our LGBTQ+ young people. We encourage the Governor to reject these bills if they reach his desk, in line with his decision to pass the anti-discrimination law in 2018.” said Emma Sevigny, Children’s Behavioral Health Policy Coordinator, New Futures.

“AFT-NH believes our public schools should be places where all our students feel safe, welcomed and are truly members of their classroom communities so they can learn and thrive,” said Deb Howes, President of AFT-New Hampshire. “As teachers we routinely report to parents about a student’s grades, classwork, homework, even occasionally infractions of the school’s rules. We look forward to having a productive partnership with each parent centered around helping the student learn and succeed in school. SB 341 goes far beyond this routine required reporting of academics to whatever a parent might want to ask.This bill asks teachers to spy on students at school just in case a parent wants to know about conversations, friendships, or other nonacademic matters. This is simply wrong! It will create an atmosphere of mistrust by most students towards their teachers. Students who feel unsafe and under surveillance in their public schools will engage less in their academics and will learn less. It is another bad move that actually puts students’ needs and learning last!”

“Educators and families work well together when it comes to helping New Hampshire students build bright futures. Unfortunately, this package of bills would needlessly and negatively impact those critical relationships and undermine efforts to make our public schools safe and welcoming places for all learners,” said Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-New Hampshire. “In particular, the vague language contained in SB 341 could result in harsh punishments for educators who support LGBTQ+ students. The Department of Education acknowledged in testimony that the “completely and honestly” standard contained in SB 341 is subject to interpretation. The last thing New Hampshire educators or students need is yet another law that establishes unclear parameters; the House of Representatives should act swiftly to reject SB 341 and this entire package of bills that jeopardizes Granite State youth’s learning and mental health.”

“These bills not only diminish the rights of students to privacy and access, they also negatively affect their mental health and well-being,’ said Lynn Stanley, LICSW and Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, NH Chapter. “We are very disappointed our Senate, which in the past has supported policies to address our mental health crisis, would choose to undermine these efforts. We cannot simultaneously support mental health care and enact policies that contribute to despair, stigmatization, and hopelessness. Our kids and communities deserve better. 

Devan Quinn, Director of Policy at the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation said “SB 375 discriminates against trans students who deserve to be accepted and included in our schools and school activities. This legislation would move us backwards from the progress New Hampshire has made in recognizing transgender people in nondiscrimination law. Despite growing public awareness of gender identity and support for transgender people, they still face disproportionate rates of discrimination, harassment, and violence — that must change. All students deserve the opportunity to participate in sports. Transgender girls, like all girls, deserve to be treated fairly and have access to all our schools have to offer.