NH Republicans pass trio of bills targeting LGBTQ Granite Staters in marathon Senate session

In a move that made anti-LGBTQ history in the Northeast, the New Hampshire Senate voted 13-10 along party lines during a marathon session Thursday to advance three bills that significantly target transgender youth and the LGBTQ+ community. (Colin Booth/Granite Post)

By Colin Booth

May 17, 2024

In a move that made anti-LGBTQ history in the Northeast, the New Hampshire Senate voted 13-10 along party lines during a marathon session Thursday to advance three bills that significantly target transgender youth and the LGBTQ+ community. If the Republican-backed legislation is signed into law, these measures would mark the first such bans in the Northeast United States.

The most debated of these bills, HB 1205, prohibits transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports from the fifth grade through the twelfth grade. The legislation requires all female athletes to submit a birth certificate or “other evidence” for eligibility — language that critics say could quickly lead to invasive measures such as genital inspections.

The bill also permits parents and students to sue schools, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA), and the state if they believe a transgender athlete has caused them psychological, emotional, or physical harm.

Another bill, HB 1312, mandates educators to provide two weeks’ notice before teaching any curriculum related to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, labeling these topics as “objectionable material.” Democratic lawmakers and LGBTQ+ advocates argue that this legislation stigmatizes LGBTQ+ topics and restricts comprehensive education.

The third bill, HB 619, bans referrals for gender-affirming surgeries for individuals under 18, thereby overriding parental rights to direct their child’s healthcare. An additional bill, HB 1660, which would ban Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming surgeries for minors, is scheduled for a vote next week.

The passage of these bills comes amid a crush of anti-LGBTQ+ moves by the state’s Republican party, including the renewal of a pledge in the NH GOP platform just last month to “Recognize marriage as the legal and sacred union between one man and one woman” and NH House Speaker Sherman Packard proclaiming May 2024 to be “Natural Family Month,” a designation coined and promoted by anti-LGBTQ+ groups.

The votes also come during a dramatic rise in hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in New England and across the United States. Recent reports have shown a significant increase in incidents of harassment, vandalism, and violence directed at LGBTQ+ individuals. According to the Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD, there were over 350 reported incidents of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremism between June 2022 and April 2023, marking a disturbing trend that coincides with the surge in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislation.

RELATED: NH Republicans hammer anti-LGBTQ agenda on second day of 2024 session

Advocates say the new bills in New Hampshire, if enacted, could exacerbate these issues, fostering an environment that legitimizes discrimination and violence against transgender youth.

While bans on transgender athletes playing school sports teams statewide have been passed in as many as 20 states, the Biden administration has passed a rule to prevent the implementation of outright bans that is scheduled to take effect later this year.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, the first openly gay president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, issued a blistering statement to the votes.

“I am appalled by the incessant and extreme attacks on the LGBTQ+ community by New Hampshire Republicans, which are a stain on our state’s long history of supporting LGBTQ+ rights,” he said. “These attacks are part of a larger national strategy to distract voters from Republicans’ lack of ideas and solutions to the problems that Granite Staters actually care about, like lowering childcare costs and increasing affordable housing options.”

Advocates for LGBTQ+ rights in New Hampshire have expressed extreme alarm over the Senate’s passage of the votes.

Liz Canada, Advocacy Director of Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, said the votes were designed to stigmatize the trans community in the state.

“We are deeply concerned with the NH Senate’s vote to pass a statewide ban on all transgender girls playing girls’ sports. These athletes are girls: their teammates know they are girls, their coaches know they are girls, their friends know they are girls, and their parents know they are girls. This is a blatant attempt to target transgender individuals in New Hampshire, particularly transgender teens.”

Linds Jakows, Founder of 603 Equality, condemned the bills, saying, “The so-called ‘Live Free or Die’ State sent a harmful message to LGBTQ Granite Staters, especially transgender young people, by attacking their healthcare, opportunities for inclusion at school, and access to learning about people like them.”

Legal experts also voiced their concerns. Chris Erchull, an attorney with LGBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said in a statement after the votes, “Everyone, including transgender people, must have access to the medical care they need without government interference. Transgender students need the opportunity to play sports for the same reason other kids do: to learn essential life skills as part of a team where they feel like they belong.”

Advocates are now urgently calling on Governor Chris Sununu to veto these bills, hoping to appeal to Sununu’s legacy in his last term in office. He has previously said in an interview with WMUR, “I fundamentally don’t believe that biological boys should be competing in girls sports. I think it’s dangerous.”

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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