Media Contact

Ari Schechter,

December 1, 2020

Two-thirds of N.H. students go to a school without comprehensive protections for trans students 

Calls on schools and districts to adopt comprehensive policies to protect trans students 

CONCORD, N.H. – The ACLU of New Hampshire today released a startling new report that shows more than 66 percent of N.H. public school students attend a school without comprehensive protections for transgender students.  

Despite the momentum in recent years to create lived equality for transgender Granite Staters, 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.  

“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 Devon Chaffee, executive director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. “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.”

“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. It is on us all to call on the majority of school districts in New Hampshire that do not have a comprehensive policy for their transgender students and urge that they adopt one as soon as possible.” 

The ten largest schools or districts without a comprehensive trans student policy are Manchester, Concord, Bedford, Londonderry, Merrimack, Salem, Timberlane, Derry Cooperative, Hudson, and Pinkerton Academy. These districts served 46,604 students in the 2019-2020 school year, and if even just these schools/districts adopted a trans student policy, New Hampshire would move from a third to well over half of New Hampshire students (59.22%) attending a school with a trans student policy.

The N.H. School Boards Association issued a model policy in April 2015, called JBAB, that is available to all school districts in the state – and in the five years since its introduction, only 48 of New Hampshire’s 196 active school districts and charter schools have adopted that or a similar policy. Of the 48 that adopted a policy, 26 adopted the JBAB policy nearly verbatim. The other 22 districts weakened the policy.

In 2019, New Hampshire enacted three pieces of non-discrimination legislation for transgender people, which included expanding non-discrimination provisions to health insurance and other areas, adding a non-binary gender marker (X) option to state identification documents, and calling for a universal set of non-discrimination protections for students at New Hampshire public schools—including advice that each school district and chartered public school should develop policies that address and prevent discrimination.