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House Moves Forward with School Anti-Discrimination Bill

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Dan Tuohy / NHPR
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Proposed legislation to prohibit discrimination in New Hampshire's public schools is gaining momentum.

The House Education Committee voted Tuesday to approve a bill that would allow any student who alleges discrimination to bring a case against a school or school district in the local courts.

The bill's sponsor, Senator Tom Sherman, said the issue was urgent, noting that schools are the one area in New Hampshire without strong anti-discrimination laws.

 "Everywhere else in this country, in this state, is protected except for our children," said Sherman. "And they are suffering because of it and that's why this bill is here."

The bill came at the recommendation of the Governor's Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion and received bipartisan support in the Senate.

But Republicans in the minority warned the bill would encourage frivolous lawsuits against schools.

They asked for a study committee on the issue instead, which would define discriminatory practices and review power and capacity of the Human Rights Commision to deal with claims.

"It's an important topic and I don’t think that we’re ready to move forward until we review the issues," said Rep. Glenn Cordelli, a Republican from Tuftonboro.

The Republican amendment failed.

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