NH LGBTQI+, Progressive, Youth Organizations Praise White House For Announcing Coordinator to Protect LGBTQI+ Youth From Book Bans, Among Other Efforts Announced During Pride Month

New Hampshire organizations note importance of move in light of several local book ban attempts in the Live Free or Die state

CONCORD, NH – Today, the White House announced a new coordinator to protect LGBTQI+ students from book bans. This is an important step as the banning of books has a negative impact on youth, make it harder for kids to learn, and may violate civil rights laws. 

Members of New Hampshire youth, progressive, and LGBTQI+ organizations issued the following statements:

“Thankfully, communities across New Hampshire are calling out book bans for the thinly veiled attacks on LGBTQI+ people they are – whether it’s protesting DeSantis’ policies with a banned book reading, launching a local petition to successfully block a censorship law, or asking neighbors to speak out against censorship at local school board meetings,” said Linds Jakows, co-founder of 603 Equality, an emerging statewide LGBTQI+ advocacy group. “School and community libraries should be safe havens, however we’ve seen increasingly violent threats over books and inclusive family events like drag story hours, even to the point of some events being forced to cancel. These violent threats in New Hampshire come from local white supremacists, including the Proud Boys. It’s going to take all of us to continue to ensure people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations can read, speak, and express themselves freely.”

“We are thankful that in New Hampshire, when a lone book-banner or two attempts to manufacture outrage against LGBTQI+ or non-white stories, communities have quickly shown up to stop censorship and instead demonstrate the strong, inclusive, and welcoming communities we deserve,” said Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Director with Granite State Progress. “Public education and libraries are the bedrock of our democracy, and attempts to use book bans to drive a wedge between parents and their local public schools by targeting LGBTQI+ youth or other students are being rightly rejected here. We are thankful for the White House stepping up to ensure additional support for communities facing these attacks.”

“Part of supporting LGBTQI+ youth is ensuring they have access to materials where they can see themselves represented,” said Jessica Goff, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator with Seacoast Outright. “This Pride Month, we are grateful the administration has made the freedom to read about people like us, and different from us, a priority.”  

“We saw through the NH ‘banned concepts’ law for attempting to limit what students can learn about our history. Now, we are showing up to school board meetings to tell them we should be strengthening school library resources, not limiting them,” said Erika Perez, Political Director with New Hampshire Youth Movement. “While some in New Hampshire believe that ‘live free’ stops at public schools’ and libraries’ doors, we are meeting the moment to stop book bans, and we’re glad to have the White House commit to joining that work.”

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“People’s Budget” Coalition Urges NH Senate, House, to Pass State Budget That Invests In People and Communities

 Organizations call for a state budget that invests in our communities’ health, education, recovery, opportunity, and vitality

CONCORD, NH – Members of the People’s Budget Coalition will gather on Wednesday, June 7th  and Thursday June 8th at 9 AM ahead of the New Hampshire State Senate and House votes (respectively) on the budget, to advocate for a budget that adequately funds people’s needs, including education, housing, health care, and the environment, and to speak out against harmful spending like the funding proposed for the Northern Border Alliance.

“Granite Staters are not safer or better cared for when our representatives choose to divert much needed funds into unnecessary northern border enforcement and school voucher programs instead of funding affordable housing, public education, and healthcare to the amounts needed for state agencies to do their jobs well,” said Grace Kindeke, NH Program Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee which convenes the People’s Budget Coalition. “Our communities deserve a state budget that values our health, education, and opportunity. We urge lawmakers to listen and prioritize investments that will strengthen New Hampshire communities and not rush to pass a budget that includes harmful provisions simply to score political points.” 

Specifically, the coalition has sent letters to Senators and Representatives advocating for: 

  • Increasing public safety by removing Sections 477-480 regarding the Northern Border Alliance from the budget. The House removed a proposed $1.4 million originally included in the budget to establish a “Northern Border Alliance Program” and the Senate Finance Committee restored the funding.
  • Maintaining changes to Section 49-51: $40 million of the proposed $50 million “deposit” on the construction of a new prison was pulled from the House version of HB 2. This is good news, and we urge Senators to oppose any effort to reinstate the money. Since 2014, New Hampshire’s prison population has declined 35 percent and crime has decreased over 31 percent, showing that we can safely reduce our prison population without harming public safety.
  • Restoring House Passed HB 2 Sections 372-373: These sections would have appropriated $1 million to develop a real time system to ensure that individuals making bail determinations know whether an individual seeking bail is currently on release for another alleged offense. Unlike the one-size-fits-all SB 252 and SB 249, which have passed the Senate and would lead to the needless, mandatory incarceration of thousands of Granite Staters each year, this funding is a targeted approach to ensure that people are not granted bail without the court first knowing whether the individual is on release for another alleged offense.
  • Restoring House Passed HB 2 Sections 441-442: These sections would have required state, county, or municipal law enforcement to provide the public with up to 24 hours’ notice when they find out that a federal agency intends to conduct an immigration checkpoint. This notice requirement would be similar to the advanced notice that is provided for sobriety checkpoints, which, as the Attorney General has noted, is important to “minimize[] motorist surprise, apprehension and inconvenience.”
  • Retaining the provisions as passed by the House in Sections 157-162 that were added by Floor Amendment 20223-1336h, reinstating fiscal capacity disparity aid and aid targeted at high-need school districts. This aid had been cut by the Governor and House Finance Committee in their budget proposals and replaced with a formula that would have increased aid to wealthier districts while leaving more needy districts with less.
  • Supporting the Senate Finance passed Section 138 Education Trust Fund. This undoes the harm done by the “Weyler Amendment” in the House passed budget. Removing Section 138 E referring to payments to the state’s school voucher program. The state has a constitutional duty to support public school districts that it still has not met, which is why the Education Trust Fund was created. Vouchers should not be funded from this source.
  • Restoring the $75M in school building aid that was in the Governor’s budget, and further use this budget to commit to a comprehensive school funding solution that works for every student, property taxpayer, and community in New Hampshire, instead of continuing to downshift $2.3 billion of education expenses to property taxpayers every year, in violation of the NH Constitution. Every community deserves fully funded, quality public schools students and families can count on. 
  • Increasing funding for public transportation and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to electrify buses and bolster usage of our transit.
  • Adding funding for grid modernization, weatherization, and energy efficiency to decrease energy costs for NH residents and decrease our overall demand for energy.
  • Adding funding for utility cost support and expanding outreach to homes that cannot afford their electricity due to rising costs.
  • Adding investments in renewable energy including incentives for homeowners to upgrade heating and cooling systems to heat pumps.
  • Ensuring a NH government of, by, and for Granite Staters by keeping current campaign finance limits, and removing line item #595 from the budget. This amendment would allow for unlimited campaign contributions to candidates or candidate committees, allowing out-of-state elite donors and wealthy interest groups to drown out the voices of everyday Granite Staters and pay for policy. NH’s government belongs to the people, and local Granite Staters should be making decisions about local matterns in our state. 
  • Ensuring permanent reauthorization of expanded Medicaid, which now has a proven track record of benefits for the state, as well as widespread support from businesses, hospitals, and other health care providers. 

Campaign representatives expressed their support for a People’s Budget for New Hampshire:

Lisa Demaine, Co-Executive Director, 350 New Hampshire

“If our state elected officials truly value a future for the next generations, they will prioritize investments in renewable energy, grid modernization, utility bill aid, energy efficiency, and public transportation. Every Granite Stater, from our southern cities to rural folks, needs a sustainable and livable future. We demand that our elected officials listen to those struggling to pay their utility bills, those who want to use public transit, and those who want to work in clean energy.” 

Olivia Zink, Executive Director, Open Democracy Action
“Ensure a NH government of, by, and for Granite Staters by keeping current campaign finance limits, and removing amendment #2023-2021s or line item #595 from the budget. This amendment would allow for unlimited campaign contributions to candidate or candidate committees, allowing out of state elite donors and wealthy interest groups to drown out the voices of everyday Granite Staters and pay for policy.”

Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director, Granite State Progress
“Every student, from Nashua to the North Country, deserves the same opportunity to learn and thrive in fully funded, strong and inclusive public schools. Our state budget currently puts property-rich towns ahead of others instead of investing in our state as a whole. It’s time for our elected officials to make the budget priorities that are best for all Granite State students. We also must stop sending hard-earned tax dollars to unaccountable school privatization schemes that are allowed to discriminate against students.” 

Sebastián Fuentes, NH Movement Politics Director, Rights & Democracy
“There is no evidence unauthorized crossings are happening at the New Hampshire Canadian border. We cannot allow racist fearmongering about immigrants to enable the expansion of government surveillance and policing at the border. Giving immigration enforcement capabilities to local law enforcement is dangerous, negligent, and will cause harm to businesses and communities. The North Country of New Hampshire does not want this. This is just a screen to get political points. The Senate must follow the House’s lead in rejecting this funding and the politics of fear and division.” 

Frank Knaack, Policy Director, ACLU-New Hampshire
“No one has been able to show any evidence of any unauthorized border crossings in New Hampshire, and yet lawmakers are still using fear-based rhetoric to justify a massive expansion of police power and surveillance at taxpayer expense. Worse, the policies they propose have been shown in study after study to have negative impacts on public safety. We urge state lawmakers voting on the budget this week to oppose this dangerous proposal.”

Deb Howes, President AFT-NH “Every Granite State student deserves a fully funded public school where they feel welcome, can learn and thrive. Our students deserve small class sizes, expert teachers, learning support from paraeducators and robust curriculum that will prepare them for this century.”

“The Senate budget proposal has some positive things, like restoration of the Education Trust Fund which shows the Legislatures’ intention to protect state funding for public education from competing with non-education programs. It would go further in showing that commitment if the Senate removed the controversial school voucher program which pays for private education, homeschooling and other private education related expenses through a debit card like system from the restored Education Trust Fund.” 

“The Senate’s public education aid and grants formula does not provide enough funding for towns with low property tax bases but not large populations such as Berlin, Franklin, Rochester and Claremont. We need a formula that meets the needs of all the students in our public schools, not just the large cities and property wealthy towns. The House funding formula is fairer, getting more help to more students in more districts who need it. I urge the Senate to work in the best interest of the 165,000 public school students who are relying on them. Now is the time to put us on a better path and come closer to actually keeping that commitment to cherish – and fund –  public education laid out in the NH Constitution.”

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The NH People’s Budget Campaign formed during the 2021 budget process to address concerns over an unfair and inadequate state budget. The campaign includes diverse voices from the American Friends Service Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union, NH Youth Movement, the NH Council of Churches, 350NH, and NH Voices of Faith, among other organizations. Members advocate for an inclusive and equitable state budget and create opportunities for New Hampshire residents to engage in the state budget process and make their voices heard.  Read the full campaign demands here.

NH House Indefinitely Postpones Bill That Would Have Forcibly “Outed” LGBTQ+ Students

Group of LGBTQ+, public education, health care, and child welfare advocates celebrate defeat of SB 272, forced outing of LGBTQ+ student bill that targeted transgender students

Advocates Declare “Victory for Questioning and LGBTQ+ Students”

CONCORD, NH – Today, the New Hampshire State House voted 195-190 to defeat SB 272, a so-called “parental bill of rights” that would have required forced outing about students who are questioning or part of the LGBTQ community.

“Questioning and LGBTQ+ students can breathe a sigh of relief today that schools in New Hampshire will continue to be places where they can safely be who they are,” said Linds Jakows, Founder of 603 Equality. “State Representatives did the right thing and listened to the voices of LGBTQ+ teens, especially closeted teens with unsupportive families. New Hampshire schools must remain places where all students, including LGBTQ students, can live free and learn.” 

Statements from LGBTQ+, public education, and child welfare advocates:

“Today the House reaffirmed our New Hampshire’s bedrock values of freedom and fairness for all,” said Chris Erchull, Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. “We’re grateful to the legislators who carefully considered SB 272, heard the stories of LGBTQ youth and their families, and concluded it is an unnecessary and dangerous bill that singles out transgender and gender nonconforming students for targeted surveillance. Parents already have opportunities to partner with schools on the education of their children, as they should. Rejecting legislation that would take away important sources of safety and support from kids is the right move for New Hampshire.”

“We are overjoyed that the New Hampshire House stood up for keeping public schools places where all Granite State students can feel safe by voting down SB 272,” said Deb Howes, President of AFT-New Hampshire. “We shouldn’t be adding ‘informant’ to teachers’ job descriptions. Teachers don’t want to be enlisted in culture wars. They want to be there to support all students when students need it. It’s up to the Legislature to support our students, parents, teachers and public schools, not put them in a position of surveillance.”

Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath, Executive Director, NH Council of Churches, said, “The defeat of SB 272 today is a faithful move to support all of New Hampshire’s students, particularly LGBTQ+ students who are especially at risk. We believe every child is made in the image of God and deserve access to spaces and places where they can thrive. Ensuring students can engage in sacred conversations about identity on a timeline of their own choosing allows that to happen. The parent-child relationship is built on trust, and not unnecessary interference.” 

“We thank the members of the House who once again voted against advancing this harmful legislation, which would have unfairly targeted and discriminated against LGBTQ+ youth in New Hampshire,” said Courtney Reed, Policy Advocate at the ACLU of New Hampshire. “Granite State students should not have to fear being themselves at school and deserve to be able to talk about their identities when and if they are ready. In New Hampshire, all students belong–and we thank lawmakers for reinforcing that value today.”

Erin George-Kelly, Director of Youth Services with Waypoint said, “Today the New Hampshire House stood up for children when it refused to pass a harmful bill, SB 272. People may assume that establishing something called a “parents’ bill of rights” means connecting loving, caring, and supportive parents with what is occurring within their child’s educational setting. However, the reality is that the passage of this bill would have put some of LGBTQ+ children in danger of neglect and abuse at home, or of homelessness because their parents do not approve of or accept their sexual orientation or gender identity. New Hampshire’s youth deserve better and today we are thankful the House voted to defeat SB 272.”

“We applaud House members for sending a strong message today that LGBTQ+ students belong in New Hampshire and in our schools,” said Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director with Granite State Progress. “This vote is exactly in line with school board election and town meeting results across the state, where voters have overwhelmingly rejected attacks on LGBTQ+ students and instead supported the freedom for every student to have a safe, affirming learning environment.”

“We are delighted that a bipartisan majority of Representatives saw this bill for what it truly was – an attempt to target LGBTQ+ students and educators – and voted to defeat it. SB 272 would have poisoned the trusting relationship parents and educators have cultivated in New Hampshire and put our LGBTQ+ students at risk. We are pleased with today’s vote,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President. “As educators, we want all students to have the freedom to be themselves and pursue their dreams,” said Tuttle.

“Today, we won because LGBTQ teens and young adults told their most personal stories to the New Hampshire House – and representatives listened,” said Erika Perez, Political Director, New Hampshire Youth Movement. “Today, representatives saw this bill for what it always was, a false frame designed to target LGBTQ+ youth.”  

“We’re all breathing a sigh of relief today that schools will remain safe for New Hampshire’s LGBTQ+ youth,” said Jessica Goff, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator with Seacoast Outright. “We thank every representative who voted for students to freely express who they are.”

“The health and well-being of our state’s LGBTQ+ youth is safe today because representatives refused to play into a false frame that would have allowed parents to sue individual teachers – with no limit to how long after the student has left the school,” said Liz Canada, Advocacy Director of Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “We thank all legislators who protected the lives and futures of LGBTQ teens by voting down SB 272.”

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Department of Education and State Board of Education Fail to Publicize Public Listening Sessions on 306 Rules Academic Standards Re-Draft, Public Education Advocates Work to Fill Gaps

Public listening sessions are scheduled, but not publicly advertised by Department of Education or the State Board of Education; Public education advocates continue to call for stronger transparency and public process

CONCORD, NH – As New Hampshire’s State Board of Education reviews the 306 Administrative Rules, which set the minimum standards for public school approval, public education advocates have taken to spreading the word about public listening sessions in the absence of any publicly available information from the Department of Education and the State Board of Education.

In December, public education groups sent a letter to Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and the NH State Board of Education, which called on the NH Department of Education and the NH State Board of Education to halt the drafting process and have any revisions reflect the needs of communities across the state.

“Now that the Department of Education has finally announced public sessions, they still remain unadvertised, so it’s up to public education advocates to do the publicity ourselves,” said Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Organizer with Granite State Progress. “The current draft is tedious to digest, unorganized, and slashes a broad pen through equity language that is meant to address the needs of all students. It’s disturbing that not only have our calls to create an open, transparent process have gone unrecognized by the State Department of Education and State Board of Education, but they haven’t even published those public sessions anywhere.” 

Granite State Progress recently hosted a public education webinar about the 306 Rules to help community members understand the critical role that the 306 Rules play in the success of our public schools. In addition to reaching out to local school officials, school board members, parents and students to encourage them to engage in the listening sessions, Granite State Progress created Facebook events for each of the listening sessions known to be happening in the next few weeks.

As of right now, it appears the State of New Hampshire has scheduled the following 306 Rules Listening Sessions:

Tuesday May 9th at 6:30 pm: Dover/Durham listening session at Oyster River High School

Wednesday May 10th at 6:30 pm: Bow/Dunbarton listening session at Bow High School

Thursday, May 11th at 6:30 pm: Keene Middle School

Monday, May 15th at 6:30 pm: Winnacunnet High School

Wednesday, May 24th at 6:30 pm: John Stark Regional High School

Additional listening sessions are scheduled for the following dates at 6:30 pm:

May 17 in Litchfield

May 22 in Hillsboro

May 25 in Kearsarge

May 30 in Goffstown

Background on 306 Rules

Q: What are NH’s 306 Rules?

A: In the State of New Hampshire, the 306 Administrative Rules establish the minimum standards for public school approval. Said simply, they are a set of requirements that all public schools must comply with, setting the foundation for each and every public school across our state. A student’s zip code should not dictate the quality of the education that student is provided. The minimum standards for public education exist to make sure that no matter what a student’s zip code is, they will receive consistent access to quality education. This foundation provides the basis for ensuring all students are offered an essential and common framework for learning and engagement within their public school community.

The rules include requirements for elements such as the nutritional quality of food served in the cafeteria, to required professional development educators must access, to class size and graduation requirements. The 306 Rules are incredibly important for New Hampshire’s public education system.

These rules are revisited and edited every ten years. The present iteration of that effort is due by the end of 2024.

Q: Who writes the 306 Rules?

A: The NH State Board of Education (SBOE) is responsible for adopting and enacting the ED 306 Administrative Rules. Every ten years the board, and the New Hampshire Education Department (NHED) initiate a review and revision process. The current process for revision has involved significant rewrite of the Ed 306 rules. On November 18, 2020, the Executive Council and SBOE awarded a sole source contract, without competitive bidding, to the National Center for Competency Based Learning (NCCBL) to lead and facilitate the current revision process. 

Q: Where does the public fit in?

A: The current process underway has lacked transparency, with promises of public hearings and information sessions unfulfilled. This has meant key community members, including parents and students, have been locked out of a thorough public process. To date, classroom teachers have also had limited voice in the process.

 In November of 2022, the NH Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (NHASCD) gathered 40 content-area expert teachers to review a draft of the 306s and that input is part of the current draft. Specific groups that have not been included in the process are students and their parents and guardians.

Q: Where is the process at this point?

A: An initial proposal of the 306 Rules was presented to the SBOE on March 8, 2023. The SBOE chose not to take up the rules because they hadn’t had the opportunity to read the rules before voting on them. After the SBOE votes to approve the initial proposal, they will hold a public hearing. After the public hearing, the SBOE has an opportunity to revise the proposal, taking into account the public comments, and must vote again to approve them. Following that vote, the rules will be sent to the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR), which will review the rules to ensure that they comply with state law. Once JLCAR approves the rules, they return to the SBOE for a final vote, and if approved, they become the administrative regulations for public school compliance in New Hampshire.

Q: Why does all of this matter?

A: A student’s geography should not dictate the quality of the education that student is provided. The minimum standards for public education exist to make sure that no matter where a student lives, they will receive consistent access to quality public education. Communities need to come together to decide what the minimum standards are that we will offer all New Hampshire’s students. There is a concerted effort at the DOE to push the process forward with little public input and transparency, despite the rule revisions not being due until 2024. There is still time to engage in community conversations for the 306 rule-making process, and such efforts have been routinely requested by public education advocates since last year.

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Pro-Public Education School Board Candidates and Warrant Articles Win Across New Hampshire (Again)

Early results from town meeting season shows New Hampshire on track to once again to show up for a strong, honest, and inclusive public education; Granite Staters agree: LGBTQ+ students belong in New Hampshire

CONCORD, NH – Similar to last year’s record-shattering turnout that delivered big wins for pro-public education school board candidates, early results from this year’s Town Meeting season shows New Hampshire on track to once again show up for a strong, honest, and inclusive public education. In several races to date, concerned parents and community members in communities large and small successfully organized to elect pro-public education candidates and reject those seeking to dismantle public education and target LGBTQ+ students and families.

“In nearly every school board race, Granite State voters chose out-spoken champions for public education and an honest, inclusive education. This is a big win for public schools and for our future. These leaders are committed to keeping our public schools strong and making sure every student has the freedom to learn in a safe, affirming learning environment,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “As the State House debates support for our public schools and whether to put a target on the backs of LGBTQ+ students, they should pay attention to what is happening at town meeting.”

Members of We the People and other hate groups, individuals disrupting school board meetings lost big, along with members of the Free State Project. Meanwhile champions for a fully funded, honest, and inclusive public education won across the state:

  • In the Milford School District, Chair Judi Zaino handily won re-election to the school board and newcomer Amy Clark Canty was the top vote-getter; both candidates prevailed over former State Senator Gary Daniels, a politician of 35 years with strong name recognition. Daniels had supported school board members Noah Boudreault, Nathaniel Wheeler, and Joseph Vituli in their attempt to restrict transgender students’ right to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, while Zaino and Clark Canty advocated for a welcoming, safe and affirming environment for all students. Amy Clark Canty received 1556 votes and Judi Zaino received 1437 votes to Gary Daniels’ 1233. 
  • Merrimack Valley School District, home to the leaders of We the People, a local hate group, elected strong pro-public education and inclusive candidates Jessica Wheeler Russell and Sally Hirsch Dickinson over the We the People candidate slate which explicitly ran on a so-called ‘parental rights’ and anti-LGBTQ+ platform. Last year MVSD, generally considered a red conservative district, also defeated a classroom censorship/anti-equity warrant resolution.
  • In Brentwood’s selectboard race, Paul Kleinman and Andrew Artimovich prevailed over Melissa Litchfield, who ran on parental rights and cutting public school budgets in both her school board race and unsuccessful State Representative campaign. These are the third and fourth losses, respectively, that voters handed Litchfield in the last six months. She’s now been voted out of the State House, off the school board, and as of this month, lost races for coop school budget committee and select board. Meanwhile, in Brentwood’s library trustee election, Megan Schneider and Melissa Bertoulin prevailed over Julie Velevis, who was a part of a group that sued SAU 16 over enforcing masking protocols in 2021, calling masks “psychological crutches.” 
  • Wolfeboro (Governor Wentworth Regional School District) passed a pro-book warrant resolution, Article 39. This article prohibits spending town funds on the banning of books or other content from the Wolfeboro Public Library. The vote was 1058 in favor of preventing book bans, and 406 against. This timely vote against book banning prompted a letter to local State Reps, Senator Jeb Bradley, and the full House Education Committee. The letter was sent before the full State House voted to table HB 514, a book banning bill on Thursday, March 16th. 
  • In Weare, William Pollit and Christine Heath were re-elected, beating Toni Parker in the school board race. Pollit and Heath received 408 and 464 votes respectively, while Parker received 273. Parker was a vocal voice against critical race theory, and supported school board member Lisa Mazur’s attempts to ban books with racial justice and LGBTQ+ themes. Pollit was inspired to run due to attempts to ban books. Pollit and Heath were both signers of the New Hampshire School Funding Fairness Project’s recent letter to Governor Sununu and the state legislature calling to prioritize comprehensive school funding reform in the upcoming budget.
  • In other news: Three warrant articles proposed by the election-denier crowd, which has strong crossover membership with the so-called ‘parental rights’ groups, were all soundly defeated. The warrants sought to ban the use of voting machines: in Pelham Article 16 was rejected 935-498, in Sandown Article 21 was rejected 480-158, and in Salem, Article 22 was rejected by 61% of voters.
  • And in Amherst, voters rejected Free State Project founder Jason Soren’s campaign for the Amherst planning board. Despite Soren’s stated pursuit of “freedom,” he unsuccessfully sought a restraining order against the free speech of a critic during his campaign. Members of the Free State Project have routinely sponsored or voted for bills at the State House that harm progress on racial, gender, and ability justice, and that target LGBTQ+ youth.

“For more than a year, our communities have come together to protect and support public education and an honest, inclusive education,” said Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director for Granite State Progress. “The seed work that began with the school board elections last year continues to grow as parents, students, educators, and community leaders unite to protect their communities and organize proactive efforts. From recruiting strong candidates to showing up at the school board meetings to demand the best for all students, these community leaders are building a future we can all be proud of. Public education is the bedrock of our democracy, and the politicians trying to drive a wedge between parents and their local public schools by targeting queer youth or other students are being rightly rejected.”

“LGBTQ people belong everywhere, and sometimes schools are the only place for LGBTQ youth to feel safe being who they are,” said Linds Jakows, founder of 603 Equality. “603 Equality is strengthened by the outpouring of support in communities across the state to ensure the state meets its obligation to provide an adequate and inclusive education for all students. No LGBTQ+ student should be deprived of the safety and affirmation a public school can provide.”

For the past year, Granite Staters have made it clear that New Hampshire supports a strong public education and LGBTQ+ youth. Time and again, local communities are rejecting politicians and policies that attack public education and promote so-called parental rights bills, book bans, and other efforts to harm LGBTQ+ students and undermine school efforts to create affirming, inclusive learning environments. 

  • In March 2022 school board elections, Granite Staters across the state overwhelmingly rejected candidates who targeted a strong, inclusive public education.
  • In May 2022, the New Hampshire state legislature rejected a bill which would have required mandatory, immediate disclosure to parents about changes in gender identity and expression at school, even if it put the student at risk or danger.
  • In May 2022, the small town of Croydon waged a historic campaign to restore the school budget and save the local public school.
  • In September 2022, the City of Rochester handily blocked a proposed book ban by Senator and City Council James Gray to ban 4 LGBTQ+ books from the city library.
  • In November 2022, the Milford School Board fought back against an attempted book ban against their school libraries.
  • In January 2023, students in Milford staged a walkout in support of queer students, telling anti-LGBTQ+ school board members to repeal an attempted bathroom ban.
  • In March 2023, hundreds of Granite Staters turned out at the State House to support the LGBTQ+ community and reject legislative attempts to harass and target that community.
  • And the list of Granite Staters supporting PRIDE in their community goes on.

Every time someone comes after our public schools or our LGBTQ+ students, our community rises up stronger. Every child deserves to be safe, healthy, and loved.

To speak with newly elected school board leaders or the parents and community members behind local organizing efforts, email sarah@granitestateprogress.org, subject line: School Boards.   

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