New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has pledged to veto a so-called Parental Bill of Rights that would force school personnel to out LGBTQ+ students to their parents.
“This bill as written creates numerous challenges for kids,” Sununu said in a Thursday statement, according to several New Hampshire media outlets. “I share the concerns of the Attorney General and as such, will veto the bill if it reaches my desk.” Attorney General John M. Formella had expressed opposition to the bill.
House Bill 1431 appeared to be dead earlier in the week, as House and Senate negotiators failed to agree on the makeup of the legislation. But a new team of negotiators agreed Thursday on a version of the bill and will now send it to a vote in both chambers, set for next Thursday, the New Hampshire Bulletin reports.
The bill would require teachers and other staffers to notify parents of any action taken regarding a variety of issues with a student, including gender expression or identity. It would also make schools establish “procedures for a parent to learn about the nature and purpose of clubs and activities offered at his or her minor child’s school, including those that are extracurricular or part of the school curriculum,” as the bill’s text states. It would further bar school employees from encouraging students to withhold information from their parents.
Sen. Becky Whitley, the only Democrat on the negotiating committee, “warned that the bill could have harmful effects on children whose parents are less accepting,” the Bulletin reports. “I think that this bill is antithetical to all the work we have done in the state to ensure that individuals in this community, in the LGBT community, can live a life free from discrimination and be safe in all communities,” she said in the committee meeting.
Some Republicans raised concerns about the bill as well. One of them, Rep. Debra DeSimone had objections similar to Whitley’s, but she agreed Thursday to accept the latest version of the legislation, although she said she did so “begrudgingly.” After the vote, she told the Bulletin, “I think there needs to be more work done to protect the kids who do not have what every kid deserves in a parent.”
GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders had voiced opposition to the bill as well. “It’s totally inappropriate for school officials to take on the role of outing students to their families, and coming out should always be an intimate moment within a family, not a clumsy event,” staff attorney Chris Erchull said, according to TV station WMUR.
Sununu, although a Republican, has been supportive of LGBTQ+ rights. In 2018, he signed bills into law banning discrimination based on gender identity (sexual orientation was already covered) and the use of conversion therapy on minors. He is from a prominent Republican family; his father, John H. Sununu, was New Hampshire’s governor in the 1980s and then chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush, and a brother, John E. Sununu, was a one-term U.S. senator from the state.