NCAC has sent a letter to the New Hampshire House of Representatives Committee on Education in opposition to a bill that would require schools to provide two weeks’ advance parental notification prior to the use of any materials used “for instruction of human sexuality or human sexual education.”
The bill, HB 103, contains ambiguous and overbroad language that threatens to undermine the quality of public education in New Hampshire by encouraging schools to avoid materials concerning sexuality.
Then-Governor Maggie Hassan noted this in 2015 when she vetoed HB 332, an identical piece of legislation. She observed that the bill would stigmatize sexual education and deprive students of access to important information. She also worried that the bill could affect education in science and literature.
NCAC’s letter underlines the bill's potential implications on pedagogically valuable works. For instance, the bill singles out sexually explicit content as potentially objectionable and casts a negative light on books and plays that contain sexual content such as The Canterbury Tales and the works of Shakespeare.
The letter concludes by raising First Amendment concerns, as public school officials may not discriminate against ideas that they find disagreeable. It also encourages policymakers to focus on educational criteria when designing curricula.
It is worth noting that HB 103 is very similar to recent policy proposals in Virginia that NCAC has also opposed.
The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Council of Teachers of English, American Booksellers for Free Expression, and PEN America also signed NCAC’s letter.
Read the letter below; click here for a full screen view.