CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Parents seeking more control over schools and those trying to protect transgender youth converged at the New Hampshire Statehouse on Tuesday as lawmakers again took up what has become a national debate.

Both the New Hampshire Senate and the U.S. House passed legislation last month to create a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” similar to those that already have been enacted in multiple states.
While the federal bill has little chance in the Democrat-run U.S. Senate, the New Hampshire version could prevail. Republicans hold a thin majority in the House, and, according to the state GOP chairman, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu supports it.

Much of the debate has focused on provisions to require school officials — when asked by parents — to disclose that a child is using a different name or being referred to as being a different gender. Ahead of a public hearing on the bill Tuesday, supporters attending an outdoor rally held signs reading “PRO PARENT ANTI SECRETS” and “Children Belong to Parents, Not Schools.”

“There are adults working with your children who know secrets about them — intimate secrets — about their sexual ethics and identity. And not only are they not telling you, they’re actively hiding it from you. They don’t want you to know as much about your own children as they do,” said Katie Lennon, a young woman from Massachusetts who described herself as a “detransitioner” who deeply regrets taking testosterone and undergoing a mastectomy and hysterectomy.

“My scars will never heal, I will never have children, my face is permanently masculinized and I have to shave my beard every morning,” she said. “This is where social transition leads, and the schools are hiding it.”

In a 2021 review of 27 studies involving almost 8,000 teens and adults who had transgender surgeries — mostly in Europe, the U.S and Canada — 1% on average expressed regret. And research and reports from individual doctors and clinics suggest that detransitioning is rare.
Opponents argued the bill would harm students who aren’t ready to come out to potentially unsupportive or even abusive parents.

Rep. Jared Sullivan, a Democrat from Bethlehem, said he experienced years of confusion before figuring out that he is bisexual and at some points considered suicide.

“If I had had a teacher who was forced to tell my parents, I think that would have been very detrimental to me as I was trying to figure out what I was,” he said.

Rep. Loren Selig, a former middle and high school teacher, said she worked hard to help students privately navigate difficult situations and is grateful her own children have other adults they can trust.

“We’re just trying to give kids a safe space to be themselves,” said Selig, a Democrat from Durham. “For those parents whose children choose not to speak to them, perhaps the conversation they should be having is why their kids don’t feel safe to talk to them.”

Hundreds of people attended the public hearing, which was expected to last most of the day.

Nearly 3,000 people registered their opposition to the bill online, with about 2,000 in support.
“Parents love their children,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Republican Sen. Sharon Carson. “They care about their children, and they want the best for their children. Schools can’t provide that to them.”