As of September 17, 2019, a new law went into effect that provides New Hampshire public school students protection from discrimination, by their peers, teachers, and school administrators alike.
Prior to the enactment of the law, in the summer of 2019, New Hampshire had no state law protecting public school children from discrimination in public schools, even where state law protected adults from discrimination in the workplace. If a student was being discriminated against due to his or her gender, disability, or race, he or she could seek relief under federal law, but if the discrimination was in the form of peer harassment, relief was available under federal law only if the student could show that the school was “deliberately indifferent,” i.e. knew of the harassment and failed to take any efforts to stop it. This is a higher liability standard than the standard applied to adults who claim they are suffering from a discriminatory hostile work environment.
Also, under federal law, there is no protection for students from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (LGBQ) or gender identity (transgender) status. The new, New Hampshire law protects LGBTQ students just as LGBTQ adults are protected in the workplace.
Under the new law, to stop discrimination and seek relief, students may file a charge of discrimination with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights following the same procedure that has been available to adults for decades. Students may also file a civil lawsuit in state court.
If you have questions regarding discrimination in a New Hampshire public school, please contact us at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form for an initial consultation.