AFT-NH Testimony on SB 375 relative to biological sex in student athletics
From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH
Thank you, Chair Ward and Members of the Senate Education Committee for reading my testimony.
My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH.
AFT-NH represents 3,700 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education faculty across New Hampshire. My members work with approximately 30,000 of the 165,000 public school students in New Hampshire as well as thousands of university students. We are residents and taxpayers in the Granite State. I am writing today in opposition to SB 375, relative to biological sex in student athletics.
SB 375 looks to limit students to playing on student athletic teams that coincide with their ”unambiguous sex” at birth. Human life is not nearly that simple or unambiguous, and we cannot all be neatly divided into one category or another, nor can the students in our schools. AFT-NH stands in opposition to this bill because in order for students to be successful in school they need to feel welcome, safe, and a part of the school community. When children and young adults play sports, it is often a place where they feel they belong most, a place where they are taught work with a team and a place where they forge peer relationships with others their own age. For most kids, what they remember from their childhood sports experience, is the lifelong friendships they make. For many kids their sports teams are what keep them motivated to do well in school or sometimes to even show up at all. Forcing students to play on a team as a gender that feels false to them can sever that important bond, further isolating students and increasing the suicidality of an already vulnerable group of students.
Further, it is unclear to us how this law is to be enforced. Not every transgender student is “out” to the school they are in. Some students may move, some may have begun a transition before attending their current school. How are coaches, teachers, or administrators to know for sure a student’s gender? At what point does a school have to ask for “proof” of a gender identity and how is that proof gathered? Wouldn’t it be a violation of NH Constitution’s guarantee of privacy for schools to ask intrusive questions about a student’s past, family and medical history, and all for something that is NOT of any benefit to that student? Our members should not be put in the position to have to ask. Schools do not have birth certificates on file and even if they did, in New Hampshire can be updated without any notation to indicate a change. All of this puts our educators in an impossible position and could lead to breaking this law unintentionally.
For the reasons stated above we ask you to find SB 375 Inexpedient to Legislate.
President, AFT-New Hampshire