Points to Consider About New Hampshire's Conversion Therapy and Gender Identity Bills
Hearings Are Tuesday, February 21 in Concord
As we reported in Cornerstone's February 17 legislative update, bills on "conversion therapy" and gender identity will have their hearings on Tuesday, February 21, at the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee in rooms 305-307 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.
HB 587 (hearing at 10 a.m.)
would prohibit persons licensed to provide counseling services from engaging in "conversion therapy" with a person under 18 years of age in an attempt to alter the patient/client's sexual orientation. The bill carries a penalty of professional sanctions for the offending counselor.
HB 478 (1:15 p.m.)
would add gender identity to the list of protected classes covered by New Hampshire's anti-discrimination law., treating it in the same manner as race, religion, and national origin. The bill defines "gender identity" as "a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth...."
These are public hearings. Your opinion on these bills will be very important to the committee, and you'll find contact information for each member at the end of this message. Your attendance at the hearings could make a difference. The committee is preparing for a crowd.
Here are some points to consider about the two bills.
HB 587, "Conversion Therapy"
- HB 587 puts state law in the way of the therapist/client relationship. If that troubles legislators in any other context, it should trouble them with HB 587.
- HB 587 fails to take into consideration the responsibility of a client to determine her or his goals for therapy. If the adolescent client is experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction and seeks professional counseling to work through that issue, HB 587 would restrict the therapist's options.
- HB 587 puts patient confidentiality at risk. Who would determine when words chosen by a therapist cross into the definition of "conversion therapy"? What kind of authority would review patient records and determine that a therapist has or has not complied with HB 587?
- Minors who want to get counseling for gender transition - changing one's gender identity by means of hormonal and surgical intervention - may currently do so. Why is counseling for gender transition accepted under current law, while counseling for changing sexual orientation might be made a violation of professional ethics under HB 587?
- Would daycares, women’s shelters, athletic facilities for women or all-female ob/gyn practices be required to hire a man who identifies as a woman?
- Safety and privacy in settings such as locker rooms are important for everyone.
- HB 478 has no enforceable provision to distinguish (for example) a transgendered woman using a women's locker room, from a man who is cross-dressing for the purpose of predatory behavior in that setting. How do supporters of HB 478 propose to screen out predators from people exercising their rights under HB 478 in good faith?
- It is unclear how the bill would affect religious entities with regards to hiring, housing, and other accommodations.
HB 587 and HB 478 fall short in respecting the dignity and worth of each individual. The bills raise more questions than they settle. The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee needs to send the bills to the full House with Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) recommendations.
Rep. Frank Kotowski, chairman (R-Hooksett) email@example.com
Rep. Don LeBrun, vice chair (R-Nashua) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Charles McMahon (R-Windham) email@example.com
Rep. Bill Nelson (R-Brookfield) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. John Fothergill (R-Colebrook) john.Fothergill@leg.state.nh.us
Rep. James MacKay (D-Concord) email@example.com
Rep. Mary Freitas (D-Manchester) Mary.Freitas@leg.state.nh.us
Rep. Kendall Snow (D-Manchester) Ken.Snow@leg.state.nh.us
Rep. Joseph Guthrie (R-Hampstead) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Daniel Donovan (R-Deering) email@example.com
Rep. Pamela Gordon (D-Portsmouth) Pamela.Gordon@leg.state.nh.us
Rep. Martin Bove (R-Londonderry) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Jess Edwards (R-Auburn) email@example.com
Rep. Jim Fedolfi (R-Hillsborough) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. William Marsh (R-Wolfeboro) William.Marsh@leg.state.nh.us
Rep. Mark Pearson (R-Hampstead) email@example.com
Rep. Mariellen MacKay (D-Nashua) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Patrick Long (D-Manchester) email@example.com
Rep. Jerry Knirk (D-Freedom) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Mindi Messmer (D-Rye) Mindi.Messmer@leg.state.nh.us
Rep. Jeffrey Salloway (D-Lee) 603-868-1726