The firestorm in New Hampshire School Administrative Unit (SAU) 21 is continuing over a scheduled teacher training September 13 by political activist LGBTQ organization Seacoast Outright, which also stands with Black Lives Matter.

“In SAU21, the upcoming teacher training on September 13th has caused political factions to argue against each other,” wrote education researcher and parental rights advocate Ann Marie Banfield at Granite Grok Friday.

“Superintendent Meredith Nadeau and Assistant Superintendent David Hobbs have been actively working on this teacher training which never received approval by the school boards,” Banfield asserted.

In mid-August, Superintendent Nadeau, aware of the turmoil, announced Seacoast Outright’s LGBTQ teacher training would go on as planned, reported the Portsmouth Herald.

Nadeau defended the training by citing a recent school district “equity audit” within the last several years that found LGBTQ training “was one of the items identified by teachers at that time.”

The superintendent reportedly added the LGBTQ training is necessary because of the high rate of suicide and bullying reported by LGBTQ students.

“She said data from as recent as last year shows more than half of LGBTQ+ students in New Hampshire seriously consider suicide, and that more than half have reported being assaulted or bullied,” the Herald reported.

“In a district with 2,400 kids, that means we have 170 or so students who identify as LGBTQ+, and that means 85 of them have seriously considered suicide,” Nadeau said. “I think it’s important to focus as educators on being aware of that information and being prepared to support those students as best we can.”

A recent study, however, published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy by Dr. Stephen B. Levine, found that transgender activists are misusing the issue of suicide for the purpose of pushing “gender affirmation”:

Suicide among trans-identified youth is significantly elevated compared to the general population of youth (Biggs, 2022; de Graaf et al., 2020). However, the “transition or die” narrative, whereby parents are told that their only choice is between a “live trans daughter or a dead son” (or vice-versa), is both factually inaccurate and ethically fraught. Disseminating such alarmist messages hurts the majority of trans-identified youth who are not at risk for suicide. It also hurts the minority who are at risk, and who, as a result of such misinformation, may forgo evidence-based suicide prevention interventions in the false hopes that transition will prevent suicide.

“The ‘transition or die’ narrative regards suicidal risk in trans-identified youth as a different phenomenon than suicidal risk among other youth,” Levine and his colleagues noted. “Making them an exception falsely promises the parents that immediate transition will remove the risk of suicidal self-harm.”

In yet another recent study by the Heritage Foundation, a higher likelihood of youth suicide was found in states that allow minors to receive puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones without parental consent – an outcome that contradicts the “gender-affirming” activists’ narrative.

As Banfield noted, some SAU21 families with LGBTQ members support the Seacoast Outright trainings, while others do not.

The organization states on a webpage that describes its “Resources for Educators” that its educator training “focuses on helping school staff develop a welcoming community.”

Among the concepts discussed are “Allyship” – how to be an advocate for LGBTQ individuals even if one is not a member of the community – “Nonbinary and Genderfluid Identities,” and “Queering Spaces.”

Banfield explained she filed a “Right-to-Know Request” to obtain Seacoast Outright’s training materials, which she revealed at her blog post.

Among the topics covered is “Taking Action Beyond the Classroom,” which asks teachers whether “these protections/inclusive practices exist” at their school:

  • Fairly enforced non-discrimination and anti-bullying harassment policies that explicitly protect LGBTQ+ students, including in student sports
  • School forms and applications that are inclusive of all identities and family structures
  • A gender-neutral dress code
  • Gender-neutral and/or private bathrooms and changing areas

In another slide, Seacoast Outright defines “Sex Assigned at Birth” as “the sex classification given to children at birth.”

“It is typically based on their internal and/or external genitalia, hormones, chromosomes, and secondary sex characteristics,” the organization states.

Another slide states LGBTQ students can be “empowered” if the district celebrates “Pride Week in October,” and teachers place “small LGBTQIA+ flags or stickers in a visible spot on your desk or lanyard.”

“Is it inclusive for teachers to display flags from one protected class of students?” asked Banfield. “Wouldn’t that be exclusive?”

“We keep hearing how schools should be more inclusive,” Banfield told The Star News Network. “But in some of these New Hampshire schools, we have examples where school personnel have shown hostility to Christian students – to the point where their civil rights may have been violated.”

Banfield, who added she has a meeting scheduled with the superintendent on Tuesday, wrote at Granite Grok, “Why have children in SAU21 been told by their teachers that they cannot participate in Christmas activities, or even write Merry Christmas on the chalkboard?”

“Seacoast Outright is a leftist political organization training teachers with no regard for the religious families served in our public schools,” she asserted. “How is that inclusive? It marginalizes the religious community, and creates a hostile working environment for the teachers who hold traditional religious values.”

“Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking a teacher with traditional religious values can freely express their viewpoint in this political climate,” Banfield said. “Now that some of these children are getting older and realizing that they did not find happiness in a gender transition, where are their voices in this conversation? Seacoast Outright provides one narrow viewpoint and leaves out others. That’s not inclusive, that’s exclusive.”

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Training Teachers” by Chenspec. CC BY-SA 3.0.