On Tuesday, November 21, the Pembroke School Board adopted a nondiscrimination policy which will allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity. In addition, the policy also lays out explicit disciplinary actions for those who would harass or attempt to discriminate against a transgender student.
With this most recent development, the number of school districts with transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination policies rises to 17: Pembroke, Gilford, Rochester, Dresden, Dover, Epping, Greenland, Hooksett, Monroe, Northwood, Oyster River, Portsmouth, Sanborn, Concord, Londonderry, Merrimack Valley and Somersworth.
In 2015, the New Hampshire School Board Association released a model policy outlining how schools should treat transgender students; among the guidelines included were using proper pronouns, allowing restroom and locker room access to students based on their gender identity, and allowing students to participate in the team sport that best corresponds to their gender identity.
However, these were only guidelines—it is still up to the state’s 221 remaining districts without explicit protections to determine how or when nondiscrimination policies will be enforced or created. Further complicating the issue is the rollback of federal guidelines regarding transgender students earlier this year by President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy Devos.
With local action in New Hampshire cities and towns and judicial activity across the country favoring transgender people, the momentum has built even more steadily for House Bill 478, also known as #TransBillNH, which would provide comprehensive nondiscrimination protections to transgender people in housing, employment, and public accommodations like hotels, hospitals, and restaurants.
A coalition of diverse voices including businesses, faith and civic leaders, educators, and Granite Staters from all walks of life are coming together to support this legislation. If you’re one of them, click here to send a message to lawmakers urging them to support it.