New Hampshire News Connection
February 5, 2024
New Hampshire lawmakers have voted to advance a so-called "bathroom bill," which opponents said will allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
House Bill 396 does not ban transgender people from using multi-person restrooms or joining sports teams aligned with their gender identity but does allow public and private institutions to create their own restrictions.
Linds Jakows, co-founder of the group 603 Equality, said the bill stems from misinformation and fear.
"Our opponents vent unfounded fears, saying the sky is going to fall, there's going to be all of these safety and privacy violations," Jakows observed. "None of those have come true."
The bill passed the House last month, but some lawmakers moved for a "reconsideration," which was rejected. Supporters of the legislation argued it gives local institutions the power to decide what is right for them.
State legislatures nationwide introduced and passed a record-breaking number of bills last year targeting the LGBTQ+ community. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed transgender nondiscrimination protections into law in 2018 and Jakows hopes he will help ensure the safety and rights of the community again.
In the meantime, Jakows emphasized advocates will work to educate lawmakers on the effect policies like those in the bill can have on transgender people.
"We'll be working to help people connect," Jakows explained. "To help people prepare for small-group meetings with their state senators to share the stories that we know change hearts and minds and build understanding."
Jakows added it includes reminding legislators of policies already in place. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association has previously affirmed transgender people have the right to participate in athletics in alignment with their chosen gender.