Metro Weekly

Will New Hampshire’s Governor Sign 3 Anti-LGBTQ Bills into Law?

New Hampshire Republicans approved a slate of anti-LGBTQ bills, sending them to Gov. Chris Sununu to sign into law.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu – Photo: Gage Skidmore

Republicans in the New Hampshire Senate approved three House bills seeking to restrict transgender rights and curb LGBTQ visibility in schools.

Now, all three bills head to the desk of Republican Gov. Chris Sununu for his signature into law.

The first bill, which passed along party lines in the Republican-controlled House and Senate, bars transgender females in grades 5 to 12 from participating in girls’ sports in public schools, reports the New Hampshire Bulletin.

Sununu, like other supporters of the bill, has previously endorsed the bill’s underlying tenets, namely, that allowing transgender athletes assigned male at birth to compete on female-designated sports teams is inherently unfair to cisgender female athletes.

“I fundamentally don’t believe that biological boys should be competing in girls’ sports,” Sununu said in March. “I think it’s dangerous.”

However, the governor has not affirmatively said he will sign the bill into law, saying he needs to look at the final language of the bill — although most political observers believe he will.

If he does, New Hampshire would become the 26th state to push through some form of restrictions on transgender athletes. 

Under the bill, schools would be required to determine a student’s biological gender based on the gender listed on their original birth certificate. Athletic associations, including the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, the state’s main governing body in sport, would be prohibited from investigating complaints or penalizing schools that enforce segregated activities based on athletes’ assigned sexes at birth.

Additionally, the bill would allow cisgender athletes who believe they’ve missed out on an opportunity to compete or win awards to sue schools for failing to maintain single-sex segregation in sports.

A second bill, which also passed both legislative chambers on largely party-line votes, blocks minors from receiving gender confirmation surgery, which even LGBTQ advocates say rarely occurs.

Under the bill, any doctor who recommends surgical interventions for minors, or even refers them to out-of-state practitioners, can be disciplined for unprofessional conduct, and potentially lose their license to practice.

The bill allows parents to sue doctors for up to two years after their children receive surgery and allows individuals who undergo such procedures as minors to sue their former doctors until 20 years after they turn 18.

Even though most practitioners don’t recommend gender confirmation surgeries for anyone under age 18, Democrats were reticent to legislate the issue, saying such decisions are best left up to transgender individuals and their parents.

But Republicans argued that the bill is needed to prevent minors from making “life-altering” or “irreversible” decisions that they might one day regret, or could render them sterile and unable to have biological families of their own. 

The bill, much like a similar law in Arizona, does not bar other types of gender-affirming care, such as hormone therapy or puberty blockers, instead focusing only on surgical interventions.

If Sununu signs it, New Hampshire would become the 25th state to pass some form of restrictions on transition-related treatments. 

A third bill pushed by Republicans expands an existing state law that already allows parents to opt out of sex education classes as long as parents and the school district agree on alternative instruction arranged by parents.

Under the expansion, parents would also be allowed to opt out of classes that touch on issues of gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and would require teachers to give parents two weeks’ written notice before broaching such topics in class. 

“If schools are going to teach these sensitive subjects, parents ought to have the ability to review the material and make informed decisions about their child’s education,” State Sen. Tim Lang (R-Sanbornton) said during debate. 

Democrats argued that the bill is so vaguely worded that it could hamper teachers by requiring them to notify parents that they were teaching the children’s book Make Way for Ducklings because it deals with gender. They argued that the overzealous policing of everything teachers do or say has led to people leaving the profession. 

Lang countered, arguing that the opt-out would only apply to materials designed to directly instruct on gender and sexual orientation, not materials that incidentally touch on such topics.

It is unclear whether Sununu will sign that bill into law.

However, “parental rights” and curriculum censorship have been heavily embraced by Republicans in recent years as a possible wedge issue that could galvanize parents to support conservative candidates. 

LGBTQ organizations condemned the passage of the bills, accusing supporters of seeking to erase LGBTQ existence or relegate it outside of public view, and urged Sununu to veto the bills. 

“[T]he so-called ‘Live Free or Die’ State sent a harmful message to LGBTQ Granite Staters, especially transgender young people, by denying opportunities for inclusion at school, and access to learning about people like them,” Linds Jakows, the founder of 603 Equality, said in a statement. 

“All students are harmed when transgender students are harmed at school,” Sarah Robinson, the education justice director with Granite State Progress, said in a statement.

“When certain politicians try to turn us against transgender students who want to learn, be themselves, and belong with their peers, it shows that they’d rather try and pit us against each other than create honest and inclusive learning environments. Governor Sununu should see through the tired old myths they’re flinging at vulnerable students and veto these discriminatory bills.”

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