GOP bill would bar LGBTQ relationships from sex ed

Large crowds showed up at the New Hampshire State House on March 7, 2023, to push back on a slate of Republican-sponsored bills that would curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ youth. “Passing these bills would be a huge step in the wrong direction,” said Jules Good, one of the rally attendees. “And it makes me feel less safe living here as a trans person.” (NHPR - Zoey Knox)

Large crowds showed up at the New Hampshire State House on March 7, 2023, to push back on a slate of Republican-sponsored bills that would curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ youth. “Passing these bills would be a huge step in the wrong direction,” said Jules Good, one of the rally attendees. “And it makes me feel less safe living here as a trans person.” (NHPR - Zoey Knox)

By ETHAN DEWITT

New Hampshire Bulletin

Published: 02-06-2024 5:10 PM

New Hampshire lawmakers are considering new guidelines for public school sex education that would bar teachers from discussing LGBTQ sexual relationships – and require all parents to opt into the instruction before students receive it.

House Bill 1185 would lay out exactly what public schools can and cannot include in their sex education curriculum. Currently, school districts are required to teach health education and include instruction about sexually transmitted diseases, but the specific content of the sex education curricula is up to individual school districts.

HB 1185 states that sex education must include self-respect; inappropriate or unwelcome touch; personal hygiene; hormonal changes; the effectiveness of abstinence; the relative effectiveness of contraception; sexually transmitted diseases; violence prevention; pregnancy; anatomy; and drug misuse.

Sponsored by Rep. Karen Reid, a Deering Republican, the bill would require that sex education be taught in schools by a registered nurse licensed by the state Board of Nursing. It would also mandate that schools obtain written consent from a parent before teaching each child the course, and provide the full sex ed curriculum to parents at the beginning of the year.

And it would prohibit the teaching of certain topics, including anything about sexual “lifestyles,” which the bill defines to mean “how an individual chooses to live their sexual life, be it as a heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, asexual, celibate, gender fluid, or any other sexual lifestyle.”

Under the bill, school sex education programs would be barred from using materials on the topic of “gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation and identity, or any other lifestyle.” Human sexual education instruction must be contained to that specific course; teachers would be barred from including it “in any way” in any other academic subject. 

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And aside from the registered nurse, no school administrator, teacher, or staff member would be allowed to discuss human sexuality or “sexual lifestyles” with students, unless the school had a discussion with parents “and that children’s personal pediatrician if the parents or legal guardians so choose,” the bill states.

Supporters of the bill said it would prevent schools from teaching students about concepts without their parents’ knowledge. 

But at a hearing Monday, critics said it would undermine the benefits that a robust sex education course can provide to students, who can make safer and more respectful decisions and avoid dangerous situations as a result.