Around New England

NH Law Coming To Protect Public School Students, Particularly LGBTQ Students, From Discrimination

July 19, 2019

A new “anti-discrimination” bill will take effect in September in New Hampshire to “protect” its students.

Designed to protect “any student” from discrimination in public schools, the new legislation was signed by GOP Gov. Chris Sununu and had the approval of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion.

The Concord Monitor reports that the law, Senate Bill 263, allows any student “excluded from participation in, (or) denied the benefits of” a public education to sue their local school district.

The Monitor writes that the law protects students from “any discrimination on the basis of age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, or national origin.”

According to the Monitor report, part of the motive for the legislation was to fill gaps in the federal Title IX protections that do not “include protections for gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The paper adds that the “Trump administration reversed an Obama-era executive order” originally protected students from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. SB 263 will add “state-level protections” to those minority groups, the Monitor states. 

Gov. Sununu praised the legislation, stating the new law will “ensure that New Hampshire is a place where every person, regardless of their background, has an equal and full opportunity to pursue their dreams and to make a better life for themselves and their families,” the Monitor writes.

GOP opposition to the bill was part of the legislative process, the Monitor reports, with opponents voicing concern about the bill’s lack of specificity regarding what constitutes discrimination, along with concerns the bill would generate numerous lawsuits. Other concerns ranged from fears the new law would not integrate well with already-existing local policies to worries the bill would adversely impact students, like biological females, on the athletic fields and courts.

Sununu, however, reassured critics and detractors of the bill that he would closely watch how the new law is implemented, the Monitor writes, saying that his “team” will work with the “Human Rights Commission and Department of Justice” to monitor and  modify the bill “in the future should adjustments prove necessary.” 

Democrats lauded the bill, with Rep. Tamara Le saying it helps “children across New Hampshire and brings us closer to the culture of inclusiveness that we all strive for.”




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