New Hampshire schools are emerging as leaders in the movement for transgender equality with the passage of transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policies that ensure all students can participate fairly and equally in school activities.
In the last month, Rochester and Dresden became the latest school districts to adopt these policies, bringing the total number of transgender-inclusive school districts up to 16. The other New Hampshire school districts that have either updated existing non-discrimination policies to cover transgender students or passed explicit transgender-inclusive policies include Candia, Dover, Epping, Greenland, Hooksett, Monroe, Northwood, Oyster River, Portsmouth, Sanborn, Concord, Londonderry, Merrimack Valley and Somersworth.
In 2015, the New Hampshire School Board Association (NHSBA) released a model policy that laid out guidelines for how schools should treat transgender and gender-nonconforming students. Since then, schools across the state have been grappling with how to best implement these guidelines in their individual districts.
According to the NHSBA guidelines, schools should use a student’s requested name and pronouns, and allow students to use restrooms and participate in sports teams in a way that is consistent with their gender identity. It also recommends that locker room access be permitted on a case-by-case basis.
However, the NHSBA’s guidelines are just that—guidelines. It’s up to New Hampshire’s 238 individual school districts to implement these guidelines. In 2014, the Department of Education released its own guidelines announcing that Title IX protections against sex discrimination apply to transgender students.
Public schools—including New Hampshire’s—that don’t adhere to the DOE’s guidelines risk losing federal funding. Passing explicit transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policies is a smart financial move for New Hampshire’s schools, and the right thing to do for New Hampshire’s students.