HRC Blog

Defending the Anti-Bullying Law in New Hampshire

The following post is from New Hampshire field organizer Katie Drapcho:

Not only has the newly elected conservative majority in the New Hampshire legislature tried to repeal marriage equality, they are also taking aim at the anti-bullying bill that passed with bi-partisan support in 2010, and is regarded by anti-bullying organizations as a national example of a proactive and inclusive policy. It contains specific protections for LGBT students and allows schools to address cyber and off-campus bullying that interferes with a student's education.

The new bill, which the new House members passed last month, would eliminate both the language defending LGBT students and a school's ability to respond to cyber-bullying.  Given this attack, HRC partnered with Bully Free New Hampshire, a local organization of concerned parents, students, and educators, to raise awareness and encourage opposition to the bill when it went before the Senate Education Committee on April 19. 

Together, we spoke with hundreds of concerned citizens about the proposed changes to weaken the anti-bullying law. At last Tuesday’s Senate Education Committee hearing, over a hundred citizens packed the crowded committee room and, of those who signed in, 92 of our supporters opposed the bill. Only two people, the bill's sponsors, signed in to support the bill.

Students, parents, teachers, and school administrators all gave testimony defending the current law and asked the committee to oppose the bill. One mother spoke of how her son was bullied so severely on the internet that he was forced to switch schools and repeat the seventh grade. A school administrator spoke of how the cyber-bullying provisions allowed her school to intervene with bullying before it escalated to violence. Several students testified that they feel safer in school thanks to the current legislation. The committee has not yet made its recommendation on the bill, although it is expected to do so this week.  The bill will then head to the full Senate for a vote.  HRC is on the ground in New Hampshire continuing to generate opposition to this bill that seeks to roll back protections for LGBT and all students at risk of cyber-bullying.

For more on the Senate Education Committee hearing please visit:

http://www.wmur.com/r/27602315/detail.html

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