Educators: NH 'Parental Bill of Rights' Endangers Students, Penalizes Teachers
Monday, March 20, 2023
Educators in New Hampshire say a proposed "parental bill of rights" before lawmakers discriminates against LGBTQ students.
The legislation requires schools to inform parents of a student's sexual orientation or gender identity should a parent inquire. Educators could be sued in civil court, face fines or even jail time if they fail to truthfully respond.
Deb Howes, president of the American Federation of Teachers-New Hampshire, said teachers should not be forced to "out" students, and parents should talk with their children themselves.
"This is not the sort of partnership between parents and schools that we know students need to do well academically," Howes asserted.
Supporters of the bill say it helps keep parents better informed of school activities and prevents students from leading "double lives," but public comments on the bill were overwhelmingly against it. The GOP-led Senate passed the bill along party lines last week.
Educators said the legislation would erode the trust teachers build in their classrooms and risk the safety of LGBTQ students who may not be ready to reveal their identities to family. Nearly half of LGBTQ youths seriously considered suicide in the past year, according to a survey from the Trevor Project.
Ryan Richman, a high school history teacher in Plaistow, said his students are being targeted.
"If queer kids don't have any safe place where they can be themselves, it really only leads to one thing, and I'm scared that this kind of legislation is on purpose," Richman noted.
House Republicans have proposed their own parental rights bill and debate is expected this week.
Gov. Chris Sununu threatened to veto similar legislation last session. Educators say opposition from the governor would send a signal to students across the state they are safe and welcomed.
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