MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Thursday morning, New Hampshire First Congressional District Republican Nominee Karoline Leavitt stood outside the Manchester School District offices to speak out against a recent court decision upholding a district policy regarding transgender and gender non-conforming students, seeing it as an attack on parental rights.
The policy, which was passed by the Board of School Committee last year, became an issue when a Manchester parent filed a lawsuit after being told by district administrators that they must respect the privacy of students when they request to be addressed with gender pronouns different than those held at birth.
Leavitt said that she has received hundreds of calls, e-mails, texts and social media messages from across New Hampshire regarding the policy, stating that parents should receive information about their students in all circumstances and casting teachers, students and school administrators as victims of government overreach in this situation.
“I believe that bureaucrats and politicians are absolutely misguiding children because a policy like this is pitting good teachers against good parents and that should not be the role of government,” she said. “Teachers and parents should be working together to do what’s best for the child and families.”
“We should not be allowing bureaucrats and politicians to stand in the way of the family unit,” she added. “It is the bedrock of our society.”
Leavitt also criticized the policy’s role in what she saw as prevention in working with law enforcement departments to protect children from concerns related to children.
Leavitt also attacked her opponent, incumbent Democrat Chris Pappas, and other national Democrats on this issue, stating that Democrats were the party of teachers’ unions and opposed academic excellence and parental rights.
“I stand for stand for school choice, academic excellence and putting parents over politicians,” she said. “Voters should elect Republicans up and down the ballot who will stand on those issues with them.”
UPDATE: Chris Pappas has released the following statement in regard to Leavitt’s comments.
“As a proud product of Manchester public schools, I trust parents, students, and educators to shape policy and make local decisions that are best for families and the community. I agree with Governor Sununu and his veto of legislation that would have put students at risk, and I disagree with Karoline that Congress has a role to play in local decisions like this. I understand she’s trying to get national attention for her campaign, but playing politics with a deeply personal, family issue is not the New Hampshire way.”
Linds Jakows of 603 Equality also released a statement in regard to the event.
“LGBTQ people belong, and sometimes schools are the only place for LGBTQ youth to feel safe being who they are. 603 Equality rejects all attempts to create unsafe learning environments for students, risk their mental health, and undermine the state’s obligation to provide an adequate and inclusive education for all students. No LGBTQ+ student should be deprived of the safety and affirmation a public school can provide. Every child deserves a safe, healthy, and affirming home environment, but when that is not possible – or when a child is not yet ready to have a conversation with their family about their identity – schools should not be put in the place of outing that student and potentially putting the child at risk. More than half of LGBTQ+ youth have seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 5 transgender or non-binary youth attempted suicide in the past year alone. However, those whose pronouns were respected attempted suicide at half the rate. We need to support and protect LGBTQ+ students.”