Film Director of Civil War (Or, Who Do We Think We Are?) to Join NH Education and Racial Justice Leaders for Film Screening and Panel Discussion on Tuesday, September 27th at Red River Theatres

Film explores how Americans portray the story of the Civil War across the nation, and the ongoing impacts on society, public education, and racial justice

CONCORD, NH – With so much attention focused on what’s being taught in New Hampshire classrooms –– and classrooms across the country –– Granite State Progress and Learn From History are hosting an evening of impactful discussion with the people closest to the issue: parents, educators, students, and racial justice leaders from across New Hampshire.

The evening will kick off with a screening of the documentary Civil War (Or, Who Do We Think We Are?) followed by a panel discussion with film director Rachel Boynton and New Hampshire leaders in public education, racial justice, and an honest education, including:

  • Woullard Lett: Co-Chair of N’Cobra New England Chapter and Chair of the NAACP of Manchester NH Education Committee
  • Ronelle Tshiela: Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter Manchester and JD Candidate at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law
  • Jonah Wheeler: HEAL Together Program Coordinator, Rights and Democracy NH
  • Tina Philibotte: Educator and DEIJ Leader
  • Misty Crompton: 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher
  • State Rep. Manny Espitia: Nashua

“This is a powerful and reflective opportunity as we work together to protect our public schools and ensure our children can learn from the mistakes of the past in order to build a better future for all of us,” said Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director for Granite State Progress, who will moderate the panel.

Members of the public wishing to attend may register here.

Members of the media wishing to attend or schedule an interview should email zandra@granitestateprogress.org.

More about the documentary: Civil War (Or, Who Do We Think We Are?)

Directed by Emmy®-nominated filmmaker Rachel Boynton, the film provides a look at how Americans portray the story of their Civil War, revealing a nation haunted by an embittered past and the stories it refuses to tell. Filmed from the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency through the present, it interweaves insightful scenes and touching interviews to paint a portrait of the American psyche and the deep roots of its turbulent times.

The Washington Post wrote: “In “Civil War: (Or, Who Do We Think We Are),” filmmaker Rachel Boynton takes viewers on a road trip through American public memory — and thus through ignorance, both accidental and intentional … Heritage, it turns out, is a more apt phrase than history for what many citizens are steeped in, especially in the South, where after the Civil War such organizations as the United Daughters of the Confederacy instituted curriculums that forbade teaching that the conflict was waged to preserve slavery. But mythmaking was just as prevalent in the North, where reconciliation was readily and routinely prioritized over racial justice.” RogerEbert.com stated “Civil War (Or, Who Do We Think We Are)” is an account of a country that broke apart and never really got back together.”

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Back to School Gun Violence Prevention Assembly Scheduled for Saturday, September 10th at 10:00 AM at Concord High School

As another school year begins, students, parents, educators, and community members gather to remember victims of gun violence and to work toward safer schools and communities

CONCORD, NH – Students, parents, educators, and community members will gather outside of Concord High School on Saturday, September 10th at 10:00 am to remember the victims and survivors of gun violence and work urgently to prevent future tragedies.

The Back to School Gun Violence Prevention Assembly is hosted by members of the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition. The program features speakers and an overview about school safety in New Hampshire right now, including ways to take action to protect our students, educators, and community. The event includes a Be SMART table hosted by Moms Demand Action. The Be SMART framework is designed to help parents and adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries.

According to Education Week, there have been 29 school shootings this year that resulted in injuries or deaths. Across the country, there have been more than 300 mass shootings in 2022.

In New Hampshire, there is no state law prohibiting firearms in K-12 schools by community members; federal law provides more protections but guidance from the Attorney General’s office leaves schools and communities in vulnerable situations. Governor Chris Sununu vetoed a gun free schools bill, along with bills to close background check loopholes and implement other common sense gun violence prevention policies.

WHAT:          Back to School Gun Violence Prevention Assembly

WHEN:           Saturday, September 10th at 10:00 AM

WHERE:        Concord High School, 170 Warren St, Concord, NH 03301

WHO:             Hosted by GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress; Moms Demand Action New Hampshire; and other members of the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition

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ICYMI: NH Attorney General Releases Interim Guidance Potentially Invalidating Major Portions of HB 1178, An Extreme and Dangerous Gun Lobby Law Signed by Gov. Chris Sununu

New interim guidance from Attorney General’s office allows state and local police, school officials to respond to firearms related threats and to notify federal law enforcement, despite state law prohibiting cooperation and enforcement; public safety advocates hail interim guidance as victory

CONCORD, NH – In response to growing concerns and calls for guidance for state and local law enforcement and school officials in the wake of Governor Sununu’s signing of HB 1178, the New Hampshire Attorney General released interim guidance yesterday afternoon that appears to invalidate major portions of the extreme and dangerous gun lobby bill.

“This interim guidance provides state and local police and school officials with the initial support they need to respond to firearms threats and keep our schools and communities safe,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins of GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress. “Despite Gov. Sununu signing into law a prohibition on cooperation or enforcement of federal firearms laws, the interim guidance by the State of New Hampshire and the NH Department of Education still directs state and local police and school staff to act swiftly in the presence of firearms. This is a relief to countless Granite Staters, who read the law and understood the very grave danger it posed to public safety. Under Governor Sununu and the radical right members of the state legislature, our public safety laws have been weakened tenfold. This interim guidance is an indication that those extreme views are far too dangerous to be fully implemented without putting our schools and communities at risk.”

GunSense NH notes that though the interim guidance provides hope for the public safety of Granite Staters, it also contains omissions and errors which may lead to further confusion:

  • The Interim Guidance is in conflict with the law as written, and provides conflicting guidance. HB 1178 (Chapter 258:1) states no person acting under the color of state, county, or municipal law may “enforce, administer, or cooperate with any law, act, rule, order, or regulation” of the federal law unless it is also in state law. In the interim guidance, the AG and NH Department of Education state: “Local and state law enforcement officers are empowered to respond to, investigate, and take action with respect to any potential threat to schools pursuant to their authority under the New Hampshire Criminal Code. The passage of HB 1178 does not alter this.”
  • Elsewhere, the Interim Guidance indicates state and local police cannot enforce federal laws to prevent guns in schools, leaving a major question about whether armed individuals are legally allowed to roam K-12 schools, disrupting learning and posing a threat. The interim guidance affirms both that “members of the public or school employees have always had the ability to contact state or local law enforcement if they perceive a threat … and state and local law enforcement have always had the authority to respond to such calls. This authority has not changed with the passage of HB 1178.” However, elsewhere the guidance asserts that “As our Office has previously advised, state and local officials generally do not possess the authority to enforce federal firearms laws, including the Gun Free Schools Act (sic), and that has not changed with the passage of HB 1178.”
  • The Interim Guidance letter mistakenly indicates that state and local police cannot enforce the Gun Free Schools Act, which is in federal and state law. The Gun Free Schools Act is a federal law also contained in N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 193-D:2 which prevents students from bringing firearms to campus. The federal Gun Free School Zones Act (not the Gun Free Schools Act) prohibits unlicensed individuals from bringing firearms into K-12 schools. There is no state equivalent law, and Gov. Sununu vetoed a bill which would have closed this gap. HB 1178, as written, prohibits state and local police and schools from enforcing the federal Gun Free School Zones Act. The Gun Free Schools Act should still be enforced under existing state law.

“While we are thankful that front line responders are being told to act, the interim guidance raises just as many questions as before, if not more, about what that means,” Rice Hawkins said. “This puts our responders and our community at risk when they have to make these decisions mid-crisis. We demand that the Sununu Administration urgently provide detailed guidance so that our law enforcement, school officials, and members of the public have a clear understanding of how this extreme law is being applied in New Hampshire. It is outrageous that Governor Sununu signed this bill into law without having a full understanding of its scope and a plan for how it would be implemented. Sununu had no other reason except for partisan political purposes to sign it when he did.”

Background: As written, HB 1178 prohibits the State of New Hampshire, counties, towns, and schools from enforcing or even cooperating with any federal law, rule, regulation, or executive order regarding firearms and knives unless it is also in state law. This leaves our schools and communities dangerously vulnerable and increases the risk of tragedy. New Hampshire already has several major gaps between federal and state firearms laws, including those around gun free schools and domestic violence protections. As signed into law, HB 1178 applies to any current federal laws, regulations, rules, or executive orders, as well as any in the future. It jeopardizes federal, state, and local collaboration and sends a dangerous message to criminals that New Hampshire does not enforce federal gun laws.

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Webinar Briefing on HB 1178’s Dangerous Public Safety Impacts for New Hampshire – Wednesday, June 22nd at 1:00 PM

HB 1178 prohibits state and local cooperation or enforcement of federal firearms laws, leaving our schools and communities dangerously vulnerable

CONCORD, NH – As our nation mourns the most recent victims of gun violence, a dangerous bill headed to the desk of Governor Chris Sununu could threaten our communities and schools.

HB 1178 would prohibit the State of New Hampshire, counties, towns, and schools from enforcing or even cooperating with any federal law, rule, regulation, or executive order regarding firearms and knives unless it is also in state law. This leaves our schools and communities dangerously vulnerable and increases the risk of tragedy. New Hampshire already has several major gaps between federal and state firearms laws, including those around gun free schools and domestic violence protections.

HB 1178 would apply to any current federal laws, regulations, rules, or executive orders, as well as any in the future. If passed, it would jeopardize federal, state, and local collaboration and send a dangerous message to criminals that New Hampshire does not enforce federal gun laws.

State and national experts will hold a virtual briefing on HB 1178’s dangerous impacts for public safety in New Hampshire. The live webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22 at 1:00 PM and is available upon request post-briefing.

WHAT:          Briefing on HB 1178’s Dangerous Public Safety Impacts for New Hampshire

WHEN:           Wednesday, June 22 at 1:00 PM; available upon request post-briefing

WHERE:         Register for virtual briefing here

WHO:             Panelists Sam Levy, Senior Counsel at Everytown for Gun Safety; Andy Pelosi, Executive Director, The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus; Jim O’Shaughnessy, School Attorney, Drummond Woodsum; Zandra Rice Hawkins, GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress; Moderated by Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director, Granite State Progress

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Webinar Briefing on HB 1431’s Dangerous Impacts for LGBTQ+ Youth – Wednesday, May 11th at 3:00 PM in Response to Committee of Conference Announcement

HB 1431, New Hampshire’s version of a “Don’t Say Gay” ‘parental rights’ bill, creates unsafe learning environments for students, risks their mental health, and undermines the state’s obligation to provide an adequate and inclusive education for all New Hampshire students

CONCORD, NH – Today, the NH State House announced it non-concurred with the NH Senate and requested a committee of conference on HB 1431, a so-called ‘parental bill of rights’ that removes community protections for children. The bill is strongly opposed by advocates for public education, child welfare, and LGBTQ rights; all raised serious concerns during the legislative process that the bill will put children at risk and limit the opportunity for students to reach out to trusted adults at school if they are in a vulnerable or dangerous situation.

The LGBTQ community is especially concerned about HB 1431 as the bill would require mandatory, immediate disclosure to parents about student club and extracurricular activities, school counselor visits, and changes in gender identity and expression at school. This will cause harm to LGBTQ students and undermine school efforts to create an affirming learning environment for all students.

Advocates will hold a virtual briefing today on HB 1431’s dangerous impacts for LGBTQ+ youth. The live webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11 at 3:00 PM and is available upon request post-briefing.

WHAT:          Briefing on HB 1431’s Dangerous Impacts for LGBTQ+ Youth

WHEN:           Wednesday, May 11 at 3:00 PM; available upon request post-briefing

WHERE:         Register for virtual briefing here

WHO:             Panelists Chris Erchull, Staff Attorney, GLAD; Jessica Goff, Coordinator of Community Programming and Engagement, Seacoast Outright; and Linds Jakows, Co-Director, TransAction NH; Moderated by Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director, Granite State Progress

Background: HB 1431 would remove community protections for children. It gives a parent the final word on their child’s health, education, and welfare – even if it meant the child was put at risk or danger. For LGBTQ+ youth, this includes requiring mandatory, immediate disclosure to parents about changes in gender identity and expression at school – causing harm to LGBTQ+ students and undermining school efforts to create affirming, inclusive learning environments.

Every child deserves a safe, healthy, and affirming home environment, but when that is not possible – or when a child is not yet ready to have a conversation with their family about their identity – schools should not be put in the place of outing that student and potentially putting the child at risk. More than 50% of LGBTQ+ youth have seriously considered suicide, and a key factor in mental health and homelessness rates among LGBTQ+ youth is related to the lack of family acceptance. We need to send a strong message to LGBTQ+ youth that they belong and are protected in New Hampshire.