When respecting biology and human integrity becomes “discrimination,” we’re all at risk. Beware House Bill 383, which would require the school board to “ensure that there shall be no unlawful discrimination” in any school that “receives public funds.”
Sounds like a good idea; after all, who wants to “discriminate”?
The problem is in the details: the bill is vague, it is written to contain no religious exemption, and thanks to the new gender identity law (signed by Governor Sununu last year), the definition of “discrimination” now includes “gender identity.”
What it means to “ensure”
New Hampshire has a Commission on Human Rights specifically dedicated to adjudicating alleged cases of discrimination. HB 383, however, puts that responsibility onto the school board, potentially even local volunteer schools boards. How must a school board “ensure” that there is no discrimination within schools? HB 383 does not specify any procedure, leaving school boards without guidance and leaving communities with the possibility that what’s considered appropriate in one district might look like “discrimination” in another.
Religious and private schools
HB 383 refers to any school receiving public funds. When asked at a public hearing what that meant, the bill’s sponsor responded, “that’s for the courts to decide.” The intentionally vague language on this point in HB 383 will lead to protracted taxpayer-funded litigation. Also, while the original version of HB 383 applied to a section of state law that contained a religious exemption (RSA 354-A), HB 383 was amended in committee to apply to a different state law containing no religious exemption. It is clear that HB 383 is meant to apply to every school, public as well as private.
What “discrimination” means
New Hampshire law now includes gender identity as one of the grounds on which a claim of “discrimination” can be based. HB 383 could therefore affect any school teaching the scientific fact that there is such a thing as “male” and “female” as defined by DNA. A religious school hiring teachers who hold to the teachings of the faith could be charged with discrimination for declining to renew the contract of a teacher who chooses to reject those teachings. The burden of proof would be on the school to prove it doesn’t discriminate, rather than on the student or teacher making the claim.
HB 383 thus takes a noble idea – nondiscrimination – and uses it to punish people who aren’t on board with gender politics. This is wrong.
Cornerstone urges legislators to reject HB 383.
Update: HB 383 was passed by the New Hampshire House on a vote of 202-161 (without a roll call) on March 7. The Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee will take up the bill in April. Watch our updates to see when the next vote will be, and what you can do to oppose this measure.