Advocates Celebrate Defeat of HB 1431, An Attempt to Remove Community Protections for Children and Target LGBTQ+ Youth
May, 26, 2022, Concord, NH — Today, the New Hampshire House voted to defeat HB 1431, which would have removed community protections for children and required immediate disclosure to parents if a student joins a school club or participates in an extracurricular activity; visits a school counselor; or makes any change in their gender identity or expression at school. The vote to adopt the Committee of Conference report was 171-176.
A coalition of education professionals, health and mental health providers, parents, public education supporters, and LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations voiced opposition to HB 1431, warning lawmakers that while parents are responsible for their children’s upbringing, the legislature must also maintain focus on community protections for vulnerable children—including students who seek support from trusted adults at school.
The coalition is especially grateful to Speaker Pro Tempore Kim Rice (R-Hudson) for her leadership in defeating this harmful legislation, and to Gov. Chris Sununu for his pledge to veto the bill if it reached his desk.
Coalition organizations issued the following statements on the defeat of HB 1431:
Chris Erchull, GLAD Staff Attorney: “We’re thankful legislators from both sides of the aisle joined together to stop this misguided bill. Trusted educators and other adults at school play a pivotal role in young people’s lives, especially when students feel they aren’t ready to have sensitive conversations at home. HB 1431 would have undermined that trust by forcing teachers and staff to report on a student’s involvement in a school-sanctioned club such as a GSA, visits to a school counselor, or changes in their gender presentation, leaving already vulnerable students without a valuable source of support.
“While schools have an obligation to keep students safe, mandatory surveillance and reporting on non-threatening student behavior is not the schools’ role. Now, students can continue to seek social support in extracurricular groups or meet with a school counselor without fear that their activity will be publicized. And schools can continue to support students as they decide when and how they share private information at home about how they understand themselves.”
Emma Sevigny, Children’s Behavioral Health Policy Coordinator, New Futures: “The defeat of HB 1431 is a win for children and families across the Granite State. At its roots, this harmful legislation proposed to elevate parental rights over children’s rights, which, as we’ve seen, can negatively impact our children, especially those exploring their sexual orientation and gender identity. This bill would have undermined the important work our state has done building a comprehensive System of Care for children with behavioral health needs, and it would have robbed our youth of needed community supports. New Futures applauds those lawmakers who voted to defeat this bill, and we look forward to continuing our work together to support our children and families.”
Megan Tuttle, President, NEA-NH: “Today, a bi-partisan majority in the House voted to reject HB 1431, which, even after the adoption of amendments, still required mandatory, immediate disclosure to parents about changes in gender identity and expression at school. We are glad to see that a majority of Representatives agree that HB 1431 would cause harm to vulnerable students, and undermine school efforts to create affirming, inclusive learning environments. We thank the many members of the House for ensuring this dangerous legislation did not become law in New Hampshire.”
Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director, Granite State Progress: “The House vote to reject HB 1431 allows critical community protections for children to remain in place. As parents, we want to make sure every New Hampshire child is safe, healthy, and loved and this bill would have harmed countless kids in our state. We appreciate the legislators who showed up for students, and put the best interest of children ahead of partisan politics.”
Frank Knaack, Policy Director, ACLU of New Hampshire: “Today, the New Hampshire House affirmed that LGBTQ+ students deserve to feel safe being who they are when they are at school. We thank each representative who voted to oppose this bill, which could have forced teachers and counselors to disclose the confidential records of LGBTQ+ youth with no regard for whether it puts a student in harm’s way. These types of unconscionable attacks on LGBTQ+ youth have no place in New Hampshire.”
Elle Gallo, Mother of Transgender Child, PTA President: “As a Mom of a transgender child and a PTA President I am thrilled with today’s decision. Our young people need caring, qualified adults in their lives who care about them to help navigate this increasingly isolating world. It takes a village. I thank all the Senators and State Representatives who understood the ramifications of removing the ability of our kids to have a safe place in their schools and protecting the sanctity of trusted relationships between kids and their teachers and school counselors.”
Jen Bisson, Founder, Support Our Schools New Hampshire: “As a mother of two young children, I am relieved that a bi-partisan majority in the House voted to reject HB 1431. This dangerous bill would have caused significant harm to the most vulnerable students, including our LGBTQ+ youth. It would have also created a chilling climate where all children would feel there were no trusted adults to turn to. Children need to feel safe and welcomed in order to reach their highest academic achievement. We are so thankful to all the legislators that voted to reject this extreme legislation.”
During the final stages of the bill debate, bill sponsors resorted to smear tactics against both advocates and legislators who raised serious concerns about the bill’s impact on child welfare and safety.
Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director, Granite State Progress: “While we celebrate this victory for children and LGBTQ+ rights, this debate reminds us once again that too many politicians are willing to resort to anti-LGBTQ harassment and slander in order to push their agenda. It was embarrassing and a disgrace to witness this harmful rhetoric in our state, and we are thankful for legislators who sent a strong message with their votes that all people are welcome and belong in New Hampshire.”