Transgender sports ban receives Senate committee support

Holly Ramer/AP file photo

By JEREMY MARGOLIS

Monitor staff

Published: 05-08-2024 12:23 PM

A controversial bill that would ban transgender girls from participating on NHIAA- sanctioned girls’ sports teams in New Hampshire is expected to be voted on by the Senate next week, after it received support from the Senate’s Education Committee on Tuesday. 

Members of the Education Committee voted 3-1 to recommend passage on House Bill 1205, with Democrat Sen. Suzanne Prentiss the lone member opposed.

The Senate voted earlier this legislative session along party lines to pass its own nearly analogous bill and appears poised to do so again with the House’s version of the ban.

Gov. Sununu did not immediately respond to a question on whether he would sign the bill into law if it clears the Senate.

The proposed legislation has garnered significant community feedback in hearings over the past several months. Proponents of the ban argue it is necessary to ensure fairness and safety in girls sports, while opponents say it unnecessarily targets the tiny number of transgender girls who wish to play sports in the Granite State.

Nationally, less than 0.5% of high school athletes and approximately 30 collegiate athletes are estimated to be transgender. It is not clear how many transgender girl and woman athletes there are in New Hampshire.

If the bill passes, it would require all sports teams in fifth grade through 12th grade to be designated as “boys,” “girls,” or “mixed” teams, and would prohibit students assigned male at birth from participating in the teams designated as for “girls.”

The bill states that a student’s gender will be determined through their birth certificate.

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On Tuesday, Sen. Prentiss zeroed in on a portion of the bill that would require those without a birth certificate to prove their gender via “other evidence” that they “must pay any costs” to provide.

 “Are we going to put this on school administrators? Are we going to ask them to perform physical exams?” she asked. “This is just a vague, wide open statement waiting for trouble in interpretation.”

At a hearing last month, Republican Rep. Louise Andrus, the lead bill sponsor, said that she wasn’t sure what evidence would satisfy the proposed legislation.

“I would leave that up to the Department of Education or someone along that line that is very knowledgeable in that area to come up with a simple way to do testing,” Andrus said.

The bill is scheduled to be voted on during the Senate’s session on Thursday, May 16.