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House passes bill barring trans girls from middle school, high school girls’ sports teams • New Hampshire Bulletin


The New Hampshire House approved a bill to bar transgender girls from participating in female sports teams in K-12 schools and public colleges and universities, in a 189-182 vote that drew criticism from LGBTQ+ rights groups.

House Bill 1205 would require parents of students to produce a birth certificate to prove to school districts their child’s sex at birth before they could participate in a team sport. Those students whose birth certificate does not indicate their sex at birth would need to “provide other evidence” for it, according to the bill.

The bill would require all interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams that are sponsored by a school to label themselves according to binary genders. The teams would need to be labeled into three groups: “males,” “men,” or “boys”; “females,” “women,” or “girls”; and “coed” or “mixed.” Teams designated for “females,” “women,” or “girls” would not be allowed to accept people born biologically male.

Under the bill, a student who is aggrieved by a lack of compliance with the bill could bring legal action against the school and seek damages or injunctive relief from a court, in addition to attorney’s fees. The legislation would also bar any licensing or accrediting organization, athletic association, or government entity from “entertaining” a complaint against a school on the basis of separating teams by genders, opening an investigation, or taking adverse action. 

The bill would apply to grades 5 through 12. 

Supporters of the bill characterized it as a women’s rights issue, and argued that trans girls and women who are born biologically male can have an unfair physiological advantage over their cisgender peers. They said the bill would uphold the spirit of Title IX, which barred sex-based discrimination in educational programs, arguing that limiting sports to cisgender women would protect the purpose of female sports teams. 

But opponents denounced the bill as an attack on the rights of trans girls and women to participate in sports, and they said the bill would put schools in violation of Title IX, not in alignment with it.

“This bill targets a small group of student athletes claiming there is a categorical advantage when there is not,” said Rep. Alexis Simpson, an Exeter Democrat. 

Speaking to the House Thursday, Simpson raised privacy concerns around how students who don’t have applicable birth certificates could prove their biological gender. 

Simpson added that the bill could directly violate Title IX because it would bar boys from participating on girls teams, which is not allowed under Title IX. That could require schools to designate all girls teams as coed teams to avoid the potential for funding to be withdrawn, she said. 

And she said the bill would violate the federal law for a more basic reason: It would bar opportunities for trans students to access the sports team of their gender identity, and Title IX prohibits sex-based exclusion. 

“Title IX protects student athletes, ensuring they can participate in the sport at their school if it is offered, even if it’s not offered for their specific gender,” Simpson said. “Title IX is how girls were able to start participating in sports in the first place.”

Some rights groups, such as 603 Equality, Seacoast Outright, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, denounced the bill’s passage. 

“Today, the so-called ‘Live Free or Die’ state chose to exclude transgender girls from participating on girls sports teams, cruelly taking away opportunities to learn teamwork, improve mental health, and belong with other girls,” said Linds Jakows, founder of 603 Equality. 

But Republicans argued that trans girls would not be shut out from sports and would only need to join coed or boys’ teams.

Rep. Katy Peternel, a Wolfeboro Republican, said the bill was necessary because the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association had passed a policy that allows trans students to play on sports teams. Without the bill, there was no recourse to other girls who felt it was unfair.

Peternel argued that some girls could be cut from higher teams because they are displaced by trans girls, which could affect their ability to acquire scholarships in college.

“What about the girls whose self-esteem and mental health suffers because they can’t live out their true authentic selves?” Peternel said. “These girls work hard to train and practice only to have their dreams crushed by allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports.”

For Lane, a transgender woman who requested that her last name be omitted, competing in girls sports as a transgender girl was also important to living out her authentic self.

As a fifth grader, Lane was quickly enamored with soccer, following in the footsteps of her dad, who played it in college. “It’s sort of ingrained in my DNA,” she said in an interview with the Bulletin. “I just found so much joy in doing it.” 

Fifth grade was the first year Lane played soccer, at a private school in Maine. It was also the year she came out as a trans girl to her school. Her classmates and teachers were supportive, she said. And the girls’ soccer team welcomed her, too.

“I was accepted by everyone,” said Lane, who has since graduated high school. “I was seen as a girl. I went to the bathroom as a girl. … And it would be weird if there was an exception on the soccer field.”

Lane, who testified against HB 1205 earlier this year, said while she had an accepting environment growing up, other transgender students do not, and bills barring them from girls’ sports would only exacerbate that. If her school had prevented her from joining her girls’ team, she would not have played, she said.

“Sports are a huge part of upbringing,” she said. “They’re a huge part of growing up. Trans kids are kids and they shouldn’t be denied that experience because they’re trans.”



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