New Hampshire House votes to ban transgender women and girls from school sports

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New Hampshire House lawmakers voted Thursday to bar transgender women and girls from participating on female school sports teams, positioning the state to be the first in the Northeast to adopt such a measure.

New Hampshire’s Republican-controlled House approved House Bill 1205 Thursday in a largely party-line 189-182 vote. The bill, titled the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, now heads to the state’s GOP-led Senate, where it is also expected to pass.

House Republicans argued Thursday that the bill, which requires interscholastic, intercollegiate and intramural sports teams to designate participation based on athletes’ sex assigned at birth, is needed to preserve the integrity of women’s sports in New Hampshire and guard against the erosion of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools.

Democrats said the measure — and others like it — discriminates against transgender student-athletes by severely restricting their ability to participate in school sports and isolating them from their peers.

“After watching bills like this be voted on week after week it’s hard not to despair. But rest assured, the fight is not over,” New Hampshire Rep. Alissandra Murray, one of three openly transgender lawmakers in the state, said Thursday on X, formerly Twitter.

“We will stop these bills in the Senate, and if not, we will undo all this harm when Dems are in control next year,” Murray said. “We will not let this stand.”

LGBTQ and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Hampshire have similarly promised to fight the state’s proposal as it moves through the Senate, which is already considering a nearly identical bill.

New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has not signaled whether he will sign House Bill 1205 if it reaches his desk.

In an interview this month with WMUR-TV in Manchester, Sununu said he believes it is “dangerous” for transgender women and girls to compete in athletic events against cisgender female athletes, but added that he will need to see the bill in its final form before making a decision.

“If it comes with too many other stipulations and too many restrictions that go far off field of what we’re talking about here, we could have an issue,” he said.

In May, Sununu joined 24 other Republican governors in criticizing the Biden administration’s proposed rule changes to Title IX that could prevent states from enacting laws that categorically ban transgender athletes from participating on school sports teams that match their gender identity.

Sununu in a separate statement said his opposition to the administration’s proposal primarily concerned local control. “The best solutions are at the local level, ultimately up to each school and league — not a one-size-fits-all approach out of Washington,” he said.

Current New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association guidelines allow transgender student-athletes in the state to compete on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

At least 24 states since 2020 have enacted laws that restrict transgender student-athlete participation, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit organization that tracks LGBTQ legislation. Should House Bill 1205 become law, New Hampshire would be the first Northeastern state to adopt a statewide ban on transgender athletes.

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