Explaining the “Amendments” to the Parents’ Bill of Rights

On Thursday, May 18, the New Hampshire House will vote on SB 272, the Parents’ Bill of Rights.

SB 272 exists because districts all over New Hampshire have enacted explicit policies promising to socially transition your children and lie to you about it.

In the Mascenic School District, for example, the district’s JBAB policy states that referring to any student by a “name or pronoun that does not correspond to the student’s gender identity… is a violation of this policy making the person(s) subject to disciplinary action.” Yet when contacting a “parent or guardian,” the policy states that “school personnel should use the student’s legal name and the pronoun corresponding to the student’s gender assigned at birth.”

This is only one of numerous such examples throughout the state, likely including a large majority of school districts. A very short and incomplete list of just some of these districts can be found here.

These policies, normally called “JBAB,” are all based on a model policy created by the national progressive advocacy group “GLSEN,” or Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educators Network.

After parents’ rights activists began to call out New Hampshire progressives for basing their policies on GLSEN’s model, GLSEN deleted the model policy from its website and apparently from the Internet Archive.

Progressive advocacy groups and lawyers have pushed these policies on school districts by cynically telling school boards that the policy is required by RSA 354-A—New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination law—even though this outrageous practice is not even suggested in the statutory text and appears nowhere in the relevant case law.

As passed by the Senate, SB 272 prohibits this practice unless there is evidence that specific parents may be abusive.

Unfortunately, seven different amendments have been introduced to the bill by culturally left-wing Republicans and Democrats. The sheer number of these amendments may be designed to sow confusion and muddy the waters on this important bill. Let’s look briefly at each of these amendments.

Amendment 1675h

Cornerstone position: OPPOSE the amendment and OPPOSE passing SB 272 if amended by 1675h.  

This amendment would remove all provisions from the bill restricting secret gender transitioning.

If 1675h were to pass, SB 272 would ironically put parents’ rights in a far worse position than they are today. If this bill were amended by 1675h, Cornerstone would oppose passing the bill in the strongest terms.

Passing a so-called “Parents’ Bill of Rights” without addressing the widespread practice of secret transitioning would effectively foreclose avenues of legal and political relief to parents.

In essence, the House would be ratifying, endorsing, and strengthening the practice of secret gender transitioning by schools.

Amendment 1818h

Cornerstone position: OPPOSE the amendment but SUPPORT SB 272 if amended by 1818h.

This amendment says that the Parents’ Bill of Rights shall apply to any school that “directly or indirectly receives state funds for education.” The word “indirectly” is open-ended and undefined.

Cornerstone has no objection to subjecting private schools to SB 272 if they knowingly choose to accept any grant of state funds. In fact, we would support it.

However, the undefined words “directly or indirectly” are so broad that they will likely encompass schools who do not even know they have arguably “received state funds” in some “indirect” way.

Although the amendment is meant as an attack on private schools and should be rejected, SB 272 would still be a net victory if amended only by this amendment.

Amendment 1819h

Cornerstone position: OPPOSE the amendment but SUPPORT SB 272 if amended by 1819h.

This amendment does not do anything. It does not change the effect of the bill in any way, positively or negatively. Its sole purpose may be to cause SB 272 to be sent to a committee of conference as a strategic maneuver.

Amendment 1836h

Cornerstone position: OPPOSE the amendment and OPPOSE SB 272 if amended by 1836h.

This amendment is designed to make SB 272 functionally unenforceable for all parents except multimillionaires. It would introduce an unprecedented degree of plutocracy, or rule by wealth, into New Hampshire’s legal system.

1836h states that, if parents bring a lawsuit and lose the litigation at any point—even on appeal—they must pay all the “reasonable” legal bills of the school district.

In New Hampshire law, a plaintiff is not required to pay the defendant’s legal bills simply because they lost the lawsuit. Civil plaintiffs are only ordered to pay a defendants’ legal fees if they engaged in fraud or other egregious conduct.

Bear in mind that parents and school districts do not start litigation on a level playing field.

Already, parents who hire a lawyer to sue a district must operate within a limited budget. In contrast, New Hampshire school districts have become litigation machines, willing to spend bottomless amounts of money defending their ideological policies. While parents will likely try to minimize their own legal bills, school districts will direct their attorneys to conduct extensive discovery, file numerous motions, and so on.

“Reasonable attorneys’ fees” are generally calculated by multiplying the hours attorneys actually work on a case by a reasonable hourly rate. Accordingly, parents who narrowly lose a lawsuit under 1836h could expect to be subject to astronomical fees of at least tens of thousands of dollars, effectively becoming financially enserfed to school districts, in addition to paying their own lawyers. Almost nobody would ever bring a lawsuit under these conditions.

Amendment 1858h

Cornerstone position: OPPOSE the amendment and OPPOSE SB 272 if amended by 1858h.

Although there are multiple problems with this amendment, the largest problem is (d), which says SB 272 shall not override “any student’s right to confidentiality that otherwise exists in law, court rule, or any rules by a state agency.”

The Sununu administration has become increasingly far-left on gender issues, as evidenced by the DOJ’s highly politicized defense of JBAB policies since 2021. If SB 272 were passed as amended by 1858h, Governor Sununu could pose as protecting parental rights while one of his state agencies promulgated a rule nullifying the bill.

The references to “otherwise exists in law” and “any rules by a state agency” also create other paths to nullifying the bill.

Amendment 1886h

Cornerstone position: OPPOSE the amendment and OPPOSE SB 272 if amended by 1886h.

This amendment allows school personnel to violate parental rights if they believe that doing so will protect the child’s rights to privacy.

It goes without saying that school personnel, like other government officials, will simply interpret this undefined mandate in a way that justifies and protects their own power.

Amendment 1907h

Cornerstone position: OPPOSE the amendment and OPPOSE SB 272 if amended by 1907h.

This amendment creates a gaping exception to SB 272 for “any counselor, school psychologist, school nurse, or other certified healthcare provider.”

The amendment differs from 1675h, 1836h, 1858h, and 1886h in that it does not cancel out or reverse the entire bill. At the same time, the amendment should be opposed because it broadly ratifies secret transitioning by school-employed health care providers.

Other amendments

Cornerstone position: OPPOSE other amendments and OPPOSE SB 272 if amended by other amendments. 

You can assume that Cornerstone strongly opposes any other amendments not discussed here.

In particular, some potential amendments have been discussed which would replace (t)-(v)—the language restricting secret transitioning—with “neutral” language requiring that school personnel, upon request, “must fully and completely disclose all facts about the child,” or other words to that effect.

This language would be judicially meaningless. On their face, these proposals appear to require schools to track and record all aspects of a child’s existence in school: something that is obviously impossible. They encompass so much they encompass nothing.

In contrast, SB 272 does not require that school personnel actively monitor a child’s gender identity or anything else: it simply requires that they not lie about their own actions.

This insistence on “neutral” language—like objections that SB 272 “singles out LGBTQ students”—reflects the manipulative cynicism of the cultural left. This bill exists because progressive organizations and lawyers have advocated policies explicitly telling school personnel to lie about this specific issue.

Yet when Republican legislators push back and attempt to restore parental rights, progressives object that the language is “too specific.” This is not a coincidence.

A “Parents’ Bill of Rights” that does not address and reject secret transitioning—with the same specificity used by the cultural left in promoting it—would in effect ratify, endorse, and strengthen existing JBAB policies.

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