New Hampshire Could Become First State in the Country to Respond to New DeVos Guidelines by Strengthening State Protections against Sexual Violence
CONCORD, NH, July 06, 2020 /Neptune100/ — On Tuesday, 6/30, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed the Every Voice Bill (originally entitled SB 679), as part of a broader omnibus package of sexual violence bills, HB 705. The House voted 254-75 in favor of concurrence with the Senate, which had already passed the package on 6/16. The full package is now headed to Governor Sununu’s desk for signature.
The Every Voice Bill will enact comprehensive measures to combat sexual violence and support survivors on New Hampshire’s college campuses. Specifically, the legislation will ensure:
1. Free access to medical and legal support services
2. Anti-retaliation protections for reporting parties
3. Confidential advising services that clarify survivors’ rights & options
4. Transparent data on sexual violence
5. Universal, evidence-based prevention and response training
The Every Voice Bill was written by students, survivors, and young alumni in New Hampshire, in collaboration with lead sponsor Senator Martha Hennessey and the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. In addition to drafting the legislation, members of the Every Voice Coalition in New Hampshire have led advocacy efforts in support of its passage, including students and alumni from Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire, Keene State College, Plymouth State College, St. Anselm’s College, Southern New Hampshire University, and Rivier University.
The Every Voice bill has been backed by a bipartisan group of cosponsors in both the New Hampshire House and Senate and was endorsed in February by Governor Chris Sununu.
For decades, students have been advocating for basic rights, protections, and support in regards to sexual violence in higher education environments. Deemed a “silent epidemic” by the American Medical Association, sexual violence in higher education is a longstanding and insidious issue impacting 1 in 10 students and disproportionately impacting marginalized identities and vulnerable populations.
In May, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released her new Title IX regulations. New Hampshire is the first state to respond to these guidelines by strengthening their state-level support and protections and setting a new bar for the rest of the country to follow.
Every Voice bills have also been filed in four other states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Illinois. The Coalition is set to file new bills this upcoming session in Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, and Virginia. Every Voice believes that students, no matter where they study, should have access to basic protections against sexual violence.
Words of Support
“Students have been waiting for this legislation for a long time,” said Sophia Miller, a student activist at Dartmouth and member of the Every Voice New Hampshire steering committee. “It is amazing to see legislators listen to our voices today. I look forward to returning to a school next year that is safer and more supportive of me and classmates.”
“In New Hampshire, students and survivors have led a grassroots movement for change – and now, the legislature has taken action,” said John Gabrieli, Executive Director for the Every Voice Coalition. “What makes the Every Voice Bill unique is that it was written by students and survivors, for students and survivors. We see the human cost of sexual violence in our communities, and we want to be the ones to speak out and say: Enough is enough.”
“We are grateful for the tireless efforts of Every Voice in helping to amplify the voices of survivors and student allies across New Hampshire,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs for the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “With their leadership, the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives have passed a comprehensive bill that will dramatically improve the safety of students on campuses throughout the state.”
“The Every Voice Bill, which will make our state a national leader in the fight to end campus sexual assault, comes from student grassroots organizing and advocacy across New Hampshire,” said lead sponsor Senator Martha Hennessey. “I am proud to have filed this legislation on behalf of students and survivors in our state, and I look forward to seeing these critical measures passed into law.”
Every Voice Coalition is a student-led coalition including students, survivors, advocates, and experts who believe that more needs to be done to make our campuses safe for all students. Working the support of our partners including Know Your IX, End Rape on Campus, and SurvJustice, Every Voice bills have now been filed in five states: Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Illinois, and Connecticut. Today, more than 100,000 supporters have signed on in support of the Every Voice legislation. Students across the country agree: every voice should be heard.
We will continue to work for a culture of accountability where all students are free from gender-based discrimination and violence, and have unrestricted educational opportunities. Join us. For more information, please visit: https://www.everyvoicecoalition.org/.