The New Hampshire House of Representatives narrowly voted down parents’ bill of rights legislation 189-195 thanks to unanimous opposition from Democrats and crossover votes from four House Republicans.
“I am disappointed that some of my colleagues voted to deny parents’ inherent rights to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their own children,” said House Speaker Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry). “Our message to parents is simple. Republicans have your back. And you can rest assured we will continue to make legislative efforts to protect your right to be involved in raising your children.”
The legislation would codify the rights of parents “to direct the education and care of his or her minor child; the right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of his or her minor child,” and “the right to access and review all school records relating to his or her minor child.”
Democrats and LGBT activists were particularly opposed to the proposal’s requirement that school employees no longer lie or deny information to parents who ask about their children’s behavior at school regarding sex and gender.
“This bill sought to answer one fundamental question: Who are your children’s parents? You, or the state? Democrats want school to be a black box for you to deposit your children,” said House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn). “What goes on in school? Who knows, but it seems House Democrats evidently want to ensure that you stay in the dark and the government remains in charge of your children.”
Speaking against the bill from the House floor, Rep. Alicia Gregg (D-Nashua) said it would lead directly to child abuse by their parents. “Are all parents abusive? Absolutely not,” Gregg said. But, she added, “Teachers and counselors are required to get degrees to teach and advise kids,” while “anyone can be a parent, no degree or classes required.”
Rep. Alissandra Murray (D- Manchester) put the threat she believes parents pose more directly after her “no” vote: “Trans kids deserve to live, and I will do everything I can to protect those rights.”
Asked to share any data showing increased parental abuse of children in states with parents’ rights laws, the New Hampshire House Democratic Caucus declined to respond.
“It is unfortunate that the members of the House were swayed by scare tactics and false information,” Osborne said. “Educators and parents should be partners in a child’s education, and it is not the job of school administrators sitting behind a desk to decide what gets shared with parents and what is deliberately kept from them.”
Polls, including a new UNH survey released a day before the vote, show Granite Staters overwhelmingly support these rights for parents, including:
- Telling parents if their children are using a different name from their given name at school (66 percent support, 23 percent oppose);
- Telling parents if their child identifies as a different gender at school (64/27 percent)
- Allowing parents to inspect all the instructional material used to educate their children (69/20 percent).
A version of the legislation passed the New Hampshire Senate earlier this month. It is possible the law could be incorporated into the final state budget. That was the path for the Education Freedom Account legislation passed in 2021. But the defeat is a disappointing setback for House Republicans on an issue where they enjoyed broad, popular support.
“Sadly, today, every Democrat in the House chose to support systems and secrets over parents,” Osborne said.