Students' Rights in New Hampshire
New Hampshire now has one of the strongest anti-bullying laws in the country. A July 1, 2010 revison to the Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention Act (HB 1523) specifically recognizes that pupils who are or are perceived to be gay, lesbian or transgender are one of the groups that have historically been targeted for bullying.
Questions & Answers (Accurate as of February 25, 2014)
Harassment and Discrimination at School
Are there any laws protecting gay and transgender students in New Hampshire?
Yes, on July 1, 2010 a revison to the Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention Act (HB 1523)99 specifically recognizes that pupils who are or are perceived to be gay, lesbian or transgender are one of the groups that have historically been targeted for bullying. New Hampshire now has one of the strongest anti-bullying laws in the country.
This law requires that each school district and charter school adopt a written policy prohibiting bullying and cyberbullying that includes:
• the procedure for reporting the bullying.
• a procedure for notifying the parents or guardian of a victim within 48 hours of the incident report that can be waived if the school feels that doing so is in the best interests of the victim or perpetrator.
• a procedure for investigating the incident in a timely manner, and, for any substantiated incident of bullying, the school must create a remediation plan that may include appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrator, steps to reduce future incidents or retaliation and, if appropriate, offer assistance to the victim or perpetrator. The remediation plan must also be communicated to the parents or guardians of all the students involved in the incident.
• a plan for communicating, training and educating students, staff and parents about the anti-bullying policy.
Are there other laws which may protect me from discrimination and harassment because of my sexual orientation?
Possibly. Under federal law, public schools which receive federal funds may not discriminate on the basis of sex. Sometimes, the harassment of a gay student will be sexual harassment forbidden by this federal law, known as Title IX. Complaints can be made to your school Title IX coordinator, as well as to the federal Dept. of Education, Office of Civil Rights, in Boston. A student’s constitutional rights may be violated by some kinds of discrimination and harassment.
What can I do if I’m being discriminated against at school?
There are many ways to approach the issue. One is to ask for support from a friend, teacher or counselor and talk to the people who are bothering you. That is not an option, however, if you don’t feel safe doing so.
Take a look at your school policies and notify whoever is supposed to be notified—usually a vice principal or Title IX coordinator. You should document any incidents of harassment or discrimination in writing. Once you meet with the right officials, make a note of what you told them and on what date and ask when they will be getting back to you with a response. If they don’t help you or don’t follow through, you may wish to write to the principal and superintendent and ask for them to end the discrimination.
You may also want to contact the State Dept. of Education at (603) 271-3494 or at http://www.ed.state.nh.us/. If you want to consider legal action against the town, contact GLAD.
Do students have the right to form Gay Straight Alliances in their schools even if the principal or community opposes it?
Students have broad rights to form groups. In particular, a federal law known as the “Equal Access Act” provides that secondary school students in schools that receive federal funding and have extra-curricular groups must allow students to form other extra-curricular groups without discriminating based on the religious, philosophical, political or other content of the speech at meetings. GLAD brought and won a case for students who wanted to start a Gay Straight Alliance at West High in Manchester, New Hampshire on this very basis.
Protect Your Rights
(800) 455-GLAD (4523)
Email or Live Chat: http://www.GLADAnswers.org
Commission for Human Rights
Department of Children, Youth and Families
Department of Education
New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union
Know More About Your Rights
Local LGBTQ Youth Groups
(800) 639-6095 (crisis only)
(800) 431-1012 (general)
Youth Guardian Services
Other Resources You Can Use
Bully Free NH
Child and Family Services
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
HIV/HCV Resource Center
Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Samaritans of New Hampshire
99See HB 1523 at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2010/HB1523.html.