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Transgender Rights | Students | New Hampshire

New Hampshire Students Q&A

Are there any laws protecting transgender students in New Hampshire?

Yes. On July 1, 2010, the New Hampshire General Court enacted a revision to the Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention Act (see HB 1523 at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2010/HB1523.html). that specifically recognized that pupils who are LGBT or perceived to be LGBT 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.

The 2010 law requires that each school district and charter school adopt a written policy prohibiting bullying and cyberbullying that includes:

  • a 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. Federal law prohibits sex discrimination in public schools that receive federal funding. Depending on the situation, harassment of LGBT students may be actionable as sex discrimination (see, e.g., Ray v. Antioch Unified School District, 107 F. Supp. 2d 1165 (N.D. Cal. 2000) (stating that attacks based on a student’s perceived sexuality constitute sex discrimination)). Harassment of transgender students in particular is actionable. Several federal courts have held that the federal anti-discrimination law, Title IX, prohibits discrimination based on gender identity (see, e.g., G.G. v. Gloucester Cnty. Sch. Bd., 822 F.3d 709 (4th Cir. 2016) mandate recalled and stayed, Gloucester Cnty. Sch. Bd. v. G.G., 136 S. Ct. 2442 (2016) (deferring to DOE’s interpretation that Title IX prohibits gender identity discrimination); Bd. of Educ. v. U.S. Dep’t of Educ., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131474 (S.D. Ohio 2016) (same)). Similarly, in 2016, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released a joint guidance taking the position that Title IX protects transgender students from discrimination based on gender identity; that Title IX obliges schools to respect a student’s gender identity and allow them to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with that identity; and that Title IX does not require a student to provide documentation or medical diagnosis before being treated consistently with their gender identity (see Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students, U.S. Department of Justice/U.S. Department of Education, available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201605-title-ix-transgender.pdf).

Complaints can be made to your school’s Title IX coordinator, as well as to the federal Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, in Boston. In cases where a school has reacted with deliberate indifference, monetary damages may be available. 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’s 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, contact GLAD.