Around New England

New Hampshire House Approves Bill That Would Allow Biological Males Who Identify As Females To Compete in Girls Sports

May 9, 2019

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow biological males to compete in girls sports.

New Hampshire Senate Bill 263 states:

No person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in public schools because of their age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, or national origin …

The bill also provides a mechanism for aggrieved parties and the state’s attorney general to sue in state superior court.

The bill doesn’t mention school sports directly, but critics say it would apply to school sports.

Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, signed a bill in June 2018 that added “gender identity” to state civil rights laws, after his Governor’s Advisory Council of Diversity and Inclusion recommended it. Sununu established the council by executive order in December 2017 during his first year in office, and adding gender identity to civil rights laws was its first recommendation.

Supporters say the current anti-discrimination bill would help protect vulnerable students.

Opponents say the bill would lead to frivolous lawsuits and unwanted outcomes.

State Representative Rick Ladd, a Republican and a former school principal, highlighted the possible effect on high school sports.

“The impact of transgender athletes in our interscholastic athletic programs, especially as it relates to fair competition and safety, is a very important issue that has to be discussed,” Ladd said, according to The Union Leader. “We are moving forward into an area that is going to be a lawyer’s dream of litigation.”

The New Hampshire House passed the bill, 214-143, on Wednesday, May 8.

Only two Republicans – Joe Alexander of Goffstown, a public policy graduate student; and Gates Lucas of Sunapee – voted for the bill.

Only one of the 12 sponsors of the bill is a Republican:  Jason Janvrin of Seabrook. He did not vote on the bill.

The New Hampshire Senate passed a similar version of the bill on March 28, 20-3. Seven Republicans – Regina Birdsell of Hampstead, Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro, Sharon Carson of Londonderry, Bob Giuda of Warren, James Gray of Rochester, John Reagan of Deerfield, and Ruth Ward of Stoddard – voted for the bill.

All three state senators who voted against it are Republicans. They are Harold French of Franklin, Chuck Morse of Salem, and David Starr of Franconia.

Democrats control the New Hampshire House of Representatives, 233-167

Democrats control the New Hampshire Senate, 14-10.

The versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate differ, so a conference committee must work out a mutually acceptable version before both chambers can vote on it again.

The House vote in support of its version of the bill, though substantial, is not a veto-proof majority. That sets up a decision for Sununu.

The governor has said he supports the concept of the bill but hopes that concerns about unintended consequences are solved before it reaches his desk, without stating what those may be, according to The Union Leader.

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