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ACLU: Most New Hampshire schools lack policies for transgender students

Concord Monitor
Published: 12/9/2020 9:43:05 PM
Modified: 12/9/2020 9:42:57 PM

A new report by the ACLU of New Hampshire shows that many of the state’s schools don’t have policy protections in place for transgender students.

The 37-page report, which was released Wednesday, shows 66% of New Hampshire public school students attend a school without comprehensive protections for students who are transgender or gender nonconforming.

In the report, titled “The Case for Lived Equality in the Classroom,” the New Hampshire chapter of GLSEN, an LGBTQ rights organization, estimates that half of trans students in New Hampshire still face some kind of discrimination at school. Without official policies in place, the report says, these students are at heightened risk for harassment.

“Without policies in place in every New Hampshire school district, transgender and gender non-conforming students are left to advocate for themselves as they seek respect and understanding throughout the school day,” said Palana Belken, policy advocate and author of the report. “Talking to trans high school students in New Hampshire is heartbreaking. The discrimination they face on a daily basis and the lengths they go to in order to avoid harassment are unacceptable.”

In 2015, a model policy called JBAB was issued by the New Hampshire School Boards Association. So far, 48 school districts or charter schools have adopted it, or a similar policy.

In core of the Upper Valley, Hanover, Plainfield and Claremont were the only districts with what the ACLU considered a “full policy” on transgender issues. Most municipalities, including Lebanon and the Mascoma area, were listed as having no policy.

In 2019, New Hampshire enacted non-discrimination legislation for transgender people, that included, among other provisions, calling for a universal set of non-discrimination protections for students at New Hampshire public schools, including advice that each school district and public charter schools should develop policies that address and prevent discrimination.

The report includes a recommendation that the New Hampshire Department of Education allow for preferred names and a third, nonbinary gender marker in its data collection system, and on the cover sheet of student Individual Education Plans.

“It is critical that New Hampshire schools provide comprehensive protections for transgender students, which are fundamental to making clear that trans students are worthy of a full and social life,” said ACLU New Hampshire Executive Director Devon Chaffee. “We call on all school districts that haven’t yet implemented comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for transgender students to do so expeditiously, because these students’ lives are being affected every day they attend school without them.”




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