NHCC Support of LGBTQ+ youth and testimony on HB619

Yesterday, Rev. Heidi and Rev. Allison participated on behalf of the NH Council of Churches in both gathering clergy and voices of faith in support of LGBTQ+ youth at the State House, and testimony against HB619, a bill targeting our transgender youth in the state of NH. Below, you can read Rev. Heidi’s words at the press conference on multiple bills from yesterday morning, and Rev. Allison’s testimony opposing HB619. We were thrilled to see so many clergy, and voices of faith show up boldly to say that they stand with LGBTQ+ youth across our state not in spite of our faiths, but because of them.

Rev. Heidi’s Press Conference Statement

Good morning.

Thank you for being here this morning.

My name is the Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath, and I serve as the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Council of Churches. I am here this morning representing seven active denominations of congregations, and hundreds of practicing Christians, Unitarian Universalists, and Quakers across the State of NH.

We are here this morning to say in no uncertain terms that targeting the state’s transgender youth is a violation of the religious beliefs and principles of hundreds of churches and faith communities across the Granite State. At the NH Council of Churches our faiths compel us to advocate for, and protect the worth and dignity of every human being (especially our most vulnerable populations). All Granite Staters, particularly our youth, deserve to live free from oppression. We believe LGBTQ+ youth are made in the image of God, and we have a moral and theological responsibility to speak up when they are being harmed.

Many pieces of legislation being heard today claim a justification in the name of “faith.” A conflation of narrowly defined religion and government legislation nearly always results in someone’s oppression. This is not who we are in NH. Our laws cannot, and must not privilege one set of beliefs over another. Acutely so when the health and safety of our youth is in question.

As a Christian minister, I want our transgender youth to know that hundreds of people of faith across the state (including many practicing Christians) stand with you, and we will fight to defeat any and all legislation that seeks to harm you. These legislative efforts do not speak for us at the Council of Churches, or the deeply held beliefs of many congregations, or people of faith across our state. Transgender, and LGBTQ+ youth and adults are beloved by God, and by us. Thank you.

Rev. Allison’s Testimony

My name is Rev. Allison Palm. I am a Unitarian Universalist minister serving the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua. I also serve as the president of the New Hampshire Council of Churches. As a faith leader, I am here to speak in opposition to House Bill 619.

My faith is rooted in the belief that every person has inherent worth and dignity, and that we must work to create a world that affirms and honors this truth. HB 619  uses multiple tactics to deny the dignity of transgender and nonbinary youth here in New Hampshire.

In my ministry, I have worked with many youth who are transgender or nonbinary, and I know that the thing they need most are places where they can find support, acceptance and love – places where they are seen and understood and affirmed for the fullness of who they are, including their gender identity. Our youth spend more of their waking hours in school than they do almost anywhere else, and they need schools to be that kind of place. The restrictions this bill places on our schools make it impossible for our schools to offer that affirmation and acceptance to transgender and nonbinary youth.

In addition to being a minister, I am also a mother to two young children. Next year, my older kiddo will start kindergarten in our local public school. I want her to be able to receive an education in a place where people of all genders are affirmed, where whoever she ends up becoming is met with acceptance and love. I know I can offer her that at home and at church, but if this bill passes, I also know she won’t find it at school.

I believe that the most important thing we teach our children and youth is that they are loved and accepted, just the way they are. House bill 619 seeks to do the exact opposite of this. It would cause real harm to the transgender and nonbinary youth in our state spiritually, emotionally and psychologically by placing into effect policies that prohibit them from being fully who they are at school, and by denying the health care that affirms their gender identity.

 If you care about the youth of New Hampshire, I urge you to oppose House Bill 619.