Dover councilor adds voice to transgender protections bill

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After the loss of her daughter, Keene mother hopes to help others

February 25, 2017 by admin
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Transgender Teen Speaks Out On Trump Rolling Back Protections, New Hampshire Bill

February 24, 2017 by admin
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Importance of N.H. transgender nondiscrimination bill increases as federal Depts. of Justice, Education rescind transgender youth nondiscrimination guidance

February 23, 2017 by admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2017
Owen Loftus | [email protected] | 719-406-6564
www.FreedomNewHampshire.org

CONCORD, N.H. — The Departments of Justice and Education have rescinded federal guidance interpreting Title IX’s sex discrimination provisions to prohibit discrimination against transgender students. The guidance, issued in 2016, instructed schools that allowing transgender students to use the restrooms that match their gender identity is required in order to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. While not legally binding, the guidance was based on mounting legal precedent.

The announcement from DOJ and ED came on the same day that members of the New Hampshire House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the House of Representatives pass House Bill 478, which would update state law to explicitly prohibit discrimination against transgender residents in employment, housing and public accommodations. While HB 478 does not directly deal with schools, it does provide vital protections for transgender students in almost every other aspect of their lives.

Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, released the following statement regarding today’s announcement:

“The withdrawal of this federal guidance makes it more important than ever that New Hampshire lawmakers ensure transgender residents and visitors are protected from discrimination, especially our state’s young transgender people.

“Transgender students and adults want the same thing everyone wants: to contribute their talents to our great state and live freely as themselves without having to fear discrimination or bullying just because of who they are. New Hampshire values freedom and individual liberty, and today’s committee votes shows that those values remain vibrantly held. Regardless of what the federal government does, discrimination has no place in the Live Free or Die state.”

Several school districts in New Hampshire already have policies in place protecting transgender students from discrimination, including the Concord School District, Hampton School District, Oyster River Cooperative School District and Rochester Schools.

The full House is expected to debate HB 478 by early March.

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Editorial: Bullying the transgender community

February 23, 2017 by admin

CLICK HERE to read the editorial at the Concord Monitor.

We were reminded this week of an old George Carlin quote that was printed on the Monitor’s Forum page not long ago: “Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another.” It’s true, especially that last part, and if you need evidence just ask a transgender person.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump withdrew federal protections for transgender students who want only to use the school bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. The move was driven by Trump’s evangelical base, which fallaciously argues that the Obama administration directive that granted those protections placed students in harm’s way. A spokesman for the conservative Family Research Council told the New York Times that “the federal government has absolutely no right to strip parents and local schools of their rights to provide a safe learning environment for children.” This is bigotry poorly disguised as states’ rights, and it’s disingenuous to claim otherwise. Even Trump’s handpicked education secretary, Betsy DeVos, seemed to recognize it as a civil rights, not states’ rights, issue – or at least she did until Trump gave her a choice between her own principles and his. Judging by the speed in which she returned to lockstep, it was an easy decision.

In New Hampshire, lawmakers are attempting to go in the opposite direction of Trump’s White House by proposing a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. As it stands, it is illegal in New Hampshire to discriminate based on age, sex, race, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, religious creed or national origin. “Gender identity” clearly belongs on the list, and passage of House Bill 478 should be a slam-dunk. But here is what those who want to protect the transgender community from bigotry are up against: One woman who testified against the bill said she would be “too frightened to use a public bathroom” if she “knew there could be a man in there.” That is a tired argument based on an irrational premise, yet somehow it is given legitimacy every time such a bill is debated. And then there was the therapist from Texas who testified that the bill attempts to “redefine what it means to be human.” We couldn’t disagree more. The bill represents the finest, most advanced traits of humanity: empathy, compassion, fairness and goodwill.

Day after day, Trump proves that as a society we haven’t learned to care for one another. State lawmakers have the opportunity to make that a little less true.

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Trump And Transgender Rights: What Just Happened?

February 23, 2017 by admin
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N.H. House panel gives transgender nondiscrimination protections bill a favorable nod

February 22, 2017 by admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2017
Owen Loftus | [email protected] | 719-406-6564
www.FreedomNewHampshire.org

CONCORD, N.H. — In a 15-2 vote, the New Hampshire House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommended that the full House of Representatives pass nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals and their families. If signed into law, House Bill 478 would update the state’s laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations to explicitly include the state’s transgender residents.

“We’re pleased with today’s vote,” state Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, said. “The fact that Republicans and Democrats came together to vote in overwhelming favor of this measure shows individual freedom and opportunity are values that all we Granite Staters can agree upon.”

The committee’s decision came only one day after they heard oral testimony from nearly 50 residents on the importance of the measure, outnumbering opposition of the bill by 7-1. Freedom New Hampshire also directed more than 1,200 constituent contacts to committee members.

“Lawmakers were touched by the broad coalition of Republicans and Democrats, business and faith leaders, health professionals, educators, public safety officials, advocates for victims of sexual and domestic violence, members of the transgender community and allies, who came together in support of House Bill 478,” Linds Jakows, campaign manager of Freedom New Hampshire, said.

Committee members were especially moved by the number of personal stories of discrimination that transgender residents and their family members recounted.

Kenzo Morris of Gilmanton described in emotional testimony how, a few years ago, he was denied a driver’s license by the state’s Dept. of Motor Vehicles — despite fulfilling all legal requirements — and was publicly ridiculed by DMV staff because he is transgender.

“Laws matter, and, like it or not, they do affect the general public opinion and determine how people act. When I am fully protected against discrimination in public places, then everyone will see that it is not okay to treat me badly just because they don’t like me or don’t understand me,” Morris told committee members.

Lawmakers also heard from several organizations in favor the bill, including the Business and Industry Association of N.H., the N.H. Association of Chiefs of Police, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and more.

“Our coalition is strong because New Hampshire is ready. And we are prepared to do everything we can to ensure everyone in New Hampshire gets a fair shot under state law, including transgender residents, visitors and their families,” Jakows added.

The measure now goes to the full House for further debate. If it passes the House, it will advance to another committee in the Senate.

Freedom New Hampshire is a nonpartisan coalition working to educate people about what it means to be transgender, the unique hardships that transgender people face and to grow support for fair and equal treatment of transgender Granite Staters under the law.

###

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BREAKING: Trump Administration Rescinds Federal Guidance Protecting Transgender Students

February 22, 2017 by admin

Just now, the Department of Justice in tandem with the Department of Education released a “Dear Colleague” letter rescinding guidance that affirmed non-discrimination protections for transgender students.

In May 2016, the Obama Administration circulated a letter which instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms that match the gender they live every day.

This guidance was non-binding, and sought merely to clarify what growing case study has found, which is that discrimination against transgender students (including restricting their restroom access) is prohibited under Title IX non-discrimination protections on the basis of sex.

Ultimately, the Obama Administration’s guidance was more a symbolic gesture than a marching order, and it sent the message to transgender students: We affirm your basic dignity, we will defend your civil rights, and we will work to ensure you have the same opportunities to succeed and participate fully at school that your peers enjoy everyday.

The Trump Administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter sends the exact opposite message.

This is a shameful step backward that ultimately has no real impact on Title IX protections for transgender students. Rescinding guidance protecting transgender students serves only to stigmatize and degrade a group of young people who are already some of the most vulnerable to bullying, harassment, mental illness, and even suicide.

And in the wake of the first-ever hearing on #TransBillNH (HB 478), which was dominated by testimony from transgender students and their families, educators, and administrators—the contrast is stark.

In an emotional testimony, Linda Fishbaugh told members of the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs (HHS) Committee yesterday that she didn’t believe her transgender daughter, Emily, would be here today if she was still living as a boy.

Other testifiers said they support #TransBillNH because they want to know their transgender children are safe and protected from harm, and that they have access to equal opportunity and a fair shot at success—the same as their peers.

Testimony from the transgender teens in the room was a highlight of the day for everyone who attended the hearing. Acting chair, Rep. Lebrun, allowed for attendees to break decorum and the code of silence to applaud after each of the transgender teens gave their heartfelt statements.

Transgender educators and administrators also spoke in support of #TransBillNH, highlighting instances of workplace harassment, which threaten their livelihood. For Shana Aisenberg, a music teacher at The Community School, discrimination in the past has cost her job.

Right now, lawmakers have a profound opportunity to chart a new course for New Hampshire. While #TransBillNH does not include non-discrimination protections for transgender students at school, it would insure their future by protecting their right to find work, to put a roof over their heads, and to participate fully in public life without constant fear of discrimination.

#TransBillNH sends a message to transgender students—the future of New Hampshire’s vibrant communities—and all transgender Granite Staters that their lives matter, that they are worthy of respect, and that they can rely on state law to protect them.

In the wake of the Trump administration’s anti-transgender guidance, the need for non-discrimination protections for our transgender community members is as urgent as ever. #TransBillNH has gotten a positive recommendation from the HHS Committee and now moves to the House of Representatives for a full vote. Click here to send a message to your Representatives urging them to support #TransBillNH and advance this important legislation to the Senate.

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With Overwhelming Bipartisan Support, HHS Committee Recommends #TranBillNH for Full House Vote

February 22, 2017 by admin

#TransBillNH passed a major milestone today. This afternoon, the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee (HHS) recommended that the full House of Representatives “ought to pass” non-discrimination protections for transgender Granites Staters.

The 15-2 vote was a resounding endorsement of transgender non-discrimination protections. It came less than 24 hours after nearly 100 supporters packed an HHS hearing on the bill, outnumbering opponents by a 7-1 margin. Supporters contacted HHS committee members more than 1,500 times in advance of today’s decision, in addition to the dozens who gave testimony yesterday.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, said he was pleased with how the decision came down—especially the bipartisan cooperation shown by lawmakers.

“The fact that Republicans and Democrats came together to vote in overwhelming favor of this measure shows individual freedom and opportunity are values that all we Granite Staters can agree upon.”

Other supporters and testifiers included the Business and Industry Association of NH, the NH Association of Chiefs of Police, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, as well as countless transgender Granite Staters, their families and friends.

One of the people who testified at yesterday’s HHS Committee hearing was Kenzo Morris of Gilmanton. He described in an emotional testimony how, a few years ago, he was denied a driver’s license by the state’s Dept. of Motor Vehicles—despite fulfilling all legal requirements—and was publicly ridiculed by DMV staff because he is transgender.

“Laws matter, and, like it or not, they do affect the general public opinion and determine how people act. When I am fully protected against discrimination in public places, then everyone will see that it is not okay to treat me badly just because they don’t like me or don’t understand me.”

Freedom New Hampshire campaign manager Linds Jakows said it was thanks to this dedicated group that lawmakers gave their positive recommendation today.  

“Lawmakers were touched by the broad coalition of Republicans and Democrats, business and faith leaders, health professionals, educators, public safety officials, advocates for victims of sexual and domestic violence, members of the transgender community and allies, who came together in support of House Bill 478.”

Now, the bill moves to the House of Representatives for a full vote, which could happen within a couple of weeks. #TransBillNH needs a majority support from the full House to advance to the Senate.

It’s important now that we show our representatives that the committee’s recommendation has strong backing from constituents statewide. Rush a message to your representatives now urging them to stand with you and support #TransBillNH to protect transgender Granite States from discrimination once and for all!

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Overflow crowd urges N.H. lawmakers to adopt transgender nondiscrimination protections

February 22, 2017 by admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 21, 2017
Owen Loftus | [email protected] | 719-406-6564
www.FreedomNewHampshire.org

Overflow crowd urges N.H. lawmakers to adopt transgender nondiscrimination protections
Business and faith leaders, public safety officials, transgender people and their families testify in favor of HB 478

CONCORD, N.H. — Granite Staters from all walks of life testified before the New Hampshire House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee in favor of House Bill 478 today. If signed into law, the measure would update the state’s civil rights laws to explicitly protect transgender residents from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, such as public parks, restaurants and hospitals. State law currently extends these protections to individuals based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, and marital status.

“This is an important measure that will ensure New Hampshire remains an open and welcoming place to all,” state Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Locations, said ahead of the hearing. “My hope is that the committee will listen to the diverse coalition of Granite Staters that will speak today and give House Bill 478 a favorable recommendation.”

Attending the hearing were business and faith leaders, public safety officials, health care professionals, educators and members of the transgender community.

“Over my years in the legislature, I can recall few bills that have brought together a larger and more diverse coalition of stakeholders than HB 478,” Rep. Caroletta Alicea, D-Boscawen, told the committee. “That is because Granite Staters believe that everyone should be treated equally and fairly under the law. [….] And we believe that House Bill 478 will promote these shared values.”

Currently, New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not afford explicit statewide protections to transgender individuals. This is troubling to those interested in attracting and retaining businesses and top talent in an increasingly competitive business climate, including the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, which endorsed the measure.

In his testimony before the committee, Joseph Reilly, New Hampshire Regional President of Eastern Bank, explained why business leaders support HB 478:

“I had a recent opportunity to meet with an individual representing the LGBTQ community at the University of New Hampshire, Durham. He told me that upon graduation, numerous graduating young adults do not stay in New Hampshire because they fear discrimination and would prefer to offer their talents in more welcoming nondiscriminatory states. With such a workforce shortage facing our great state, it further reinforces the importance of anti-discrimination protections.”

The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and other community members endorsed the legislation, stating the law is needed to increase public safety.

“It is important that all people feel equally protected under the law. Transgender persons should experience these protections, and non-transgender persons should not be victimized by anyone,” Jessica Eskeland, public policy specialist for the N.H. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said. “No one should experience fear: fear of being victimized or denied rights because of a fear of what might happen if a third party violates the law. We don’t deny one group of people a right because others may abuse the law that affords another group a right. It is for this reason that transgender public accommodations should be the law everywhere across America.”

Still, for most people attending the hearing, their support came because discrimination impacts their lives or the lives of someone they love.

“I support HB 478 because I hope for a future where I am judged on the merits of my hard work and being a good citizen, not treated differently because I am transgender.” Sarah Huckman, a transgender teenager from West Ossipee, told the committee.

The committee will vote on whether to give HB 478 a favorable recommendation or not in the coming days.

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All Eyes Look to HHS Committee for Recommendation on #TransBillNH After Packed Hearing

February 21, 2017 by admin

Moments ago, the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs (HHS) Committee wrapped up debate on #TransBillNH (House Bill 478), a bill that would expand New Hampshire’s non-discrimination laws to protect transgender Granite Staters.

The hearing lasted over 3 hours and drew more than one hundred attendees, the vast majority of whom were there to support non-discrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters. According to a final tally from the acting committee chair Rep. Donald Lebrun, 80 people showed up to testify.

Before the hearing, supporters gathered outside State House for a visibility action to show lawmakers and attendees as they arrived to the State House the strong support for #TransBillNH. The crowd cheered, waved signs and continued to grow steadily until around 1 p.m., when supporters were led into the hearing room for the meeting’s 1:15 p.m. start.

HB 478’s primary sponsor, Rep. Ed Butler, opened the meeting to a standing-room-only crowd of supporters from all walks of life, including dozens of business leaders, clergy, public safety officials, veterans, educators and other allies who support protecting the transgender community from discrimination.

Front and center were transgender Granite Staters themselves, including a handful of transgender teens, who bravely told committee members their stories of discrimination and how HB 478 could prevent others from going through the same hardships.

One testifier was Gerri Cannon, whose employer of 31 years reprimanded her and eventually let her go after she came out as transgender. She attempted to seek legal help, but lawyers told her she had no case since there were no state or federal laws that prohibited employment discrimination based on gender identity.

“The frustration was that there was no way to fight it. In my situation, I couldn’t rely on the law. From a business standpoint, nothing was clear as relates to a transgender person. There were no guidelines on what does the company do if you try to transition. There was nothing I could call on.” – Gerri Cannon, who was fired for being transgender

Another testifier was Dave Juvet, the senior vice president of public policy at the Business and Industry Association. The BIA is a statewide trade association that advocates for business-friendly laws and policies.

“Our trans brothers and sisters are human. They are valuable citizens and employees. They deserve the same civil rights,” he said. And businesses know this—that’s why 82 percent of Fortune 500 companies have these protections as company policy.

Some opponents of the bill tried to raise fears about its impact on public safety—but advocates from the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence countered these fears, noting that transgender people are actually much more likely to be victims of violence and that’s why they need these protections.

Dover Police Chief Anthony Colarusso Jr., who also attended the hearing and testified in support of #TransBillNH, has long supported updates to the law for just that reason.

Many in the healthcare industry including providers spoke out about the challenges transgender people face in accessing medical treatment, and how updated nondiscrimination protections would make this easier.

Faith leaders spoke out too, including an Episcopal priest who said he was there to represent this transgender niece, Lane.

Now that the hearing has concluded, the committee will consider public testimony—including the more than 1,000 signatures in support of #TransBillNH and countless pages of written testimony that have been submitted to the public record. And then they must make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives about how they should vote on the bill. This recommendation could come down as soon as tomorrow, and no later than next Thursday, March 2nd—the date by which #TransBillNH must pass out of committee.

The committee can make one of three recommendations: “ought to pass” (an unequivocally positive recommendation), “inexpedient to legislate” or for “interim study.” Ultimately, their recommendation will have a major impact on how House lawmakers will vote on #TransBillNH.

Click here to rush a message to HHS committee members and make sure they know you support a positive recommendation to pass #TransBillNH!

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MEDIA ADVISORY: N.H. House Committee to hear transgender nondiscrimination bill today

February 21, 2017 by admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 21, 2017
Owen Loftus | [email protected] | 719-406-6564
www.FreedomNewHampshire.org

CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear House Bill 478 today, February 21 at 1:15 PM ET. Supporters will be on hand waving signs and encouraging lawmakers to support the measure shortly before the hearing begins.

House Bill 478, sponsored by state Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, aims to update the state’s existing civil rights laws to provide explicit nondiscrimination protections to transgender individuals in housing, employment and public spaces, such as parks, restaurants or hospitals.

New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not provide these protections to transgender individuals.

“Everyone should be treated fairly and equally under New Hampshire state law, including transgender residents, visitors and their family members,” said Linds Jakows, Campaign Manager for Freedom New Hampshire. “House Bill 478 will ensure transgender Granite Staters and their family members can live their lives without having to fear being discriminated against simply because of who we are.”

The measure has already gained widespread, bipartisan support. During the hearing, committee members will hear from business leaders, members of the clergy, public safety officials, educators and transgender Granite Staters.

“People from all walks of life understand that updating state laws to protect transgender individuals from discrimination is good for business, it increases public safety and is just the right thing to do,” Jakows added.

WHAT: Sign-waving and hearing on House Bill 478

WHEN: Today, February 21 at 1:15 PM ET

WHERE:
Legislative Office Building 305-307
33 North State St.
Concord, NH 03301

PLEASE NOTE:
-Cameras are allowed in the hearing room, but space is limited.
-We will have individuals on hand for interviews.
-You will be contacted via email if there is a weather delay or cancellation.

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