New Hampshire’s state senate just passed H.B. 431, a bill that would force teachers to out LGBTQ students to the parents, potentially endangering children’s welfare.
Billed as a parents’ rights bill, H.B. 431 could be used to prevent discussions of LGBTQ topics in the classroom. However, what makes New Hampshire’s Don’t Say Gay distinct is that it would force teachers to report trans and gender-expansive students to their parents.
According to Erin Reed, the bill would require teachers to notify parents about changes in a students gender expression or identity.
NH HB 1431 passed the Senate in New Hampshire. This bill will force teachers to notify parents over changes in their children's "gender expression or identity." This puts teachers in the position of policing gender expression and outs kids before they are ready. pic.twitter.com/tyawePzrlX
— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) May 6, 2022
Subsection (g) of H.B. 431 states this in terms:
The right to be notified promptly when any school board, school district, school administrative unit, school administrator, or other school employee initiates, investigates, or finds the need for any action by school authorities relating to the student pursuant to school policies governing student conduct, truancy, dress code violations, sexual harassment, bullying, hazing, behavior management and intervention, substance use, suicide prevention, gender expression or identity, disability accommodation, and special meal prescription.
The language of the bill essentially forces teachers and school officials to out trans and non-binary students to their parents, even if such an act might endanger the child’s welfare or pose a risk to the child’s well-being.
Moreover, the law’s vague terms have been called out for including students who are even just exploring parts of their identities.
“What I think we end up doing is we end up policing curiosity,” state Sen. David Watters (D) said. “The child who wants to explore things, think about things, maybe get together with other groups of children and talk and learn about how they are.”
For any LGBTQ child, this bill would have chilling effects on attempting to come out, and it would force LGBTQ kids to live in the closet, out of fear of being harmed by their parents or left homeless.
H.B. 431 will only present greater obstacles to LGBTQ students who either may not feel ready to come out or feel it is unsafe to come out to the parents, either due to threats of shunning, violence, or homelessness.
The bill already passed the state house but it will have to go back for approval since the state senate amended it, before it can be sent to Gov. Chris Sonunu (R).
LGBTQ youth have a 120% higher likelihood of experiencing homelessness, compared to their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts.
New Hampshire’s H.B. 431 is similar to bills in other states. Republicans in North Carolina came up with a bill that would not only ban gender-affirming care that is vital and life-saving healthcare for trans youth, but that same bill would force school staff to out LGBTQ students to their parents, even at student’s peril. The bill ultimately did not pass, as North Carolina’s bill didn’t even reach a vote in the Senate.
Florida Rep. Joe Harding (R) had introduced an amendment to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would have forced school staff to out LGBTQIA+ students to their parents after a six-week period. Carlos Smith, Florida’s first Latin-American LGBTQIA+ congressperson, discussed the amendment in a tweet discussing how harmful this would be to LGBTQIA+ students.
An amendment was just filed by the sponsor of #DontSayGay to make it even more dangerous for vulnerable kids with a STATE-MANDATED outing of LGBTQ students to parents, specifically in cases of abuse, abandonment + neglect.
This will have devastating consequences for our youth.😢 pic.twitter.com/3s89rcMrMN
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) February 20, 2022
The amendment did not pass.
According to a 2021 survey by the Trevor Project, amid slew of anti-trans legislation, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth considered suicide in the last year. More than 9 out of 10 LGBTQ youth said recent politics negatively affected their mental health, according to the survey by the suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization.
In 2022, that number jumped to 45%, according to The Trevor Project.
As soon as the trans healthcare ban passed, at least four teens attempted suicide after Arkansas bans trans youth from getting healthcare, according to Dr. Michelle Hutchison in an interview with Associated Press.
Bills like these – even if they are not passed and enacted into law – do a considerable amount of harm to LGBTQ youth, as they send a signal that LGBTQ children are not welcome in their milieu.