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Transgender youth dies by suicide in N.H.

Nova Dunn reportedly bullied because of gender identity



Nova Dunn, 14, died by suicide after jumping from a bridge over a busy interstate highway in Manchester, N.H., on May 17, 2023. (Family photo).

A 14-year-old transgender youth left his school, walked down Huse Road to the overpass over busy Interstate 293, climbed the 6′ chain-link fence installed by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to prevent people falling off the older bridge and its low guard rails, and lept into eastbound traffic.

A spokesperson for the Rainbow Youth Project confirmed in a phone call Monday that Nova Dunn, a student at Southside Middle School, died by suicide. The New Hampshire State Police while not commenting, citing an ongoing investigation, confirmed the incident and the resulting “hours-long traffic jam at the location” just east of the Mall of New Hampshire.

A friend of the family, Stacey Greenberg, wrote in the GoFundMe post to raise the funds to defray the cost of the funeral:

“Hello, this is Stacey a friend of Melissa and Mom to one of Nova’s close friends. No one should have to outlive their child, but Melissa has now experienced this twice. On Wednesday afternoon, 14-year-old Nova left this earth and found the peace and acceptance he was searching for.”

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported that Manchester School District Supt. Jenn Gillis sent an email to district families last Wednesday night that said in part: “It is with deep sadness that we inform you that one of our students has died unexpectedly.”

Gillis wrote that: “This loss may raise many emotions, concerns and questions for our entire school community, especially our students.”

Manchester School District spokesperson Andrew Toland, in a press statement, noted that counselors from other Manchester area schools and the state’s Disaster Behavior Health Response Team spent May 18 at the school “directly impacted” by the death.

“Our focus in the coming days and weeks is to be supportive of our students, families and staff,” said Toland.

Multiple sources alleged that bullying and transphobia factored into the death of the teen, although the Washington Blade has been unable to verify any of those claims.

In the past few months there has been considerable attention focused on trans youth nationally, particularly around school policies regarding trans youth health care and gender identity. Last month, New Hampshire Public Radio reported that the New Hampshire Supreme Court heard arguments in a case brought by a Manchester parent challenging school policies around trans and nonbinary students.

The parent says she was kept in the dark when her child began using a different name and identifying as a different gender at school — something the parent objected to, NHPR reported.

At issue is a district policy that says Manchester school staff generally shouldn’t disclose when a student identifies as trans or gender nonconforming without that student’s permission.

Republican New Hampshire lawmakers are rallying behind legislation that would force schools to disclose a student’s gender identity to parents when asked. The state House of Representatives narrowly rejected one such proposal last month, but another remains on the table after passing the state Senate along party lines.

Nova Dunn/Facebook

In an interview on Rated LGBT Radio with Rob Watson this past week, Lance Preston, founder and executive director of the Rainbow Youth Project USA, noted that the toxic legislative atmosphere had tripled calls for assistance to the RYP’s crisis counselors, as nearly 18 states have banned trans youth gender-affirming therapy for minors, and have also passed laws the forbid discussion of LGBTQ issues, history and people in classrooms.

Preston also pointed out that more than a half dozen states enacting measures, like New Hampshire’s proposed disclosure of a youth’s gender to parents, in cases of non-affirming households specifically places those youth at risk for suicide or leaving, oft times ending up living homeless on the streets.

At the beginning of this month, the nation’s leading suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth, the Trevor Project, released the results of its latest survey of queer young people ages 13 to 24.

The survey of 28,000 youth nationwide, conducted last fall, underscores the negative mental health impact of anti-LGBTQ legislation and policies. Among the key findings:

  •    41 percent of LGBTQ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year — and those who are trans, nonbinary and/or people of color reported higher rates than their peers. 
  •    56 percent who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it.
  •    LGBTQ young people who had access to affirming homes, schools, community events and online spaces reported lower rates of attempting suicide compared to those who did not.
  •    Trans and nonbinary young people reported lower rates of attempting suicide when all of the people they live with respected their pronouns and/or they had access to a gender-neutral bathroom at school.
  •     LGBTQ young people who experienced victimization because of their orientation or identity — including being physically threatened or harmed, discriminated against or subjected to conversion therapy — reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not have any of these anti-LGBTQ experiences.
  •     Nearly 2 in 3 LGBTQ young people said that hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ people at school — also known as “Don’t Say Trans or Gay” laws — negatively impacted their mental health.

Link to the GoFundMe campaign to assist the family is here: (Nova Dunn)


New Hampshire

N.H. lawmaker may have defamed drag queens during hearing

State Rep. David Love made comments during committee hearing



Drag queen Monique Toosoon (Photo via Monique Toosoon)

A New Hampshire state representative may have made false and defamatory claims about two drag queens when speaking at a committee hearing in support of his bill requiring public libraries to vet employees and volunteers with background checks to protect children. 

During a Feb. 10 House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee hearing for the legislation, House Bill 1529-FN, state Rep. David Love (R-Derry) said he “decided to go forward with this bill as a result of a ‘drag queen story hour,’ they called it.” 

Love alleged that Michael McMahon, who goes by Clara Divine in drag, performed inappropriately in front of children at the Tupelo Music Hall in Derry last June. The event was initially supposed to occur at a public library, then a park, but “outrage” caused moved the event to the private venue.

“This individual was dancing with kids, rubbing butts, just really going way too far, and there was never a background check done on him,” said Love, who did not attend the event. 

However, McMahon told the Manchester Ink Link, none of that happened. 

“I had over 500 people in attendance and they can all vouch that none of those things happened,” McMahon said. “Literally, he’s making up something. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Republican Derry Town Councilor Jim Morgan, a gay man, wrote a letter to the committee, refuting Love’s claims. 

“I find it distasteful that an elected member of the House would blatantly lie to the committee to provide a sense of reason to pass such a flawed bill,” Morgan wrote, according to the publication. 

Another Derry Town Councilor, Joshua Bourdon, said he and his wife and children attended the show, calling it a positive experience with no inappropriate behavior. 

“I was disappointed to hear that Rep. Love lied to his peers,” Bourdon said, according to the Ink Link. “Nothing like that was there.”

The owner of Tupelo Music Hall also spoke to the online news site, denying that McMahon performed inappropriately and suggesting that “maybe David should go to some of these shows, and learn something about love and inclusion.”

During the hearing, Love also said he heard of a similar drag story hour at a public library in Nashua, N.H., at a public library. He said it was later alleged that the drag queen at the show, Monique Toosoon, “​​was a convicted sex offender.”

But Robert Champion, who performs as Monique Toosoon, completely denies the claims. 

“I’ve been in the public eye for probably 20 years for being a drag queen, and I have never ever been accused of being a sex offender,” Champion told the publication, adding that he wouldn’t have been able to complete an adoption in 2019 if he was a registered sex offender. 

Both Champion and McMahon are seeking legal counsel about the potentially defamatory claims, according to the publication. 

Love told the Ink Link that constituents told him about McMahon “rubbing butts” with children and said he remembers reading about Champion in a newspaper.

“I don’t know if it was a Boston Herald or the Union Leader or what,” Love said. “I’ve done more research on that and haven’t found it.”

But he still doesn’t think drag is appropriate for children. 

“All things aside, it’s adult entertainment … I don’t know why we’re going to this extreme, societally-wise. But to me it’s not right,” Love said. “If you want to do it as adult entertainment, have at it. But for kids, leave it alone.”

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Bill prohibiting ‘gay panic defense’ clears New Hampshire House

New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of ‘gay panic’ as a defense



New Hampshire State House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Legislation prohibiting defendants accused of manslaughter from using the victim’s gender, gender identity or sexual orientation as a defense, which had died in committee during the 2021 regular session of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, was reintroduced this session and passed with a 223-118 vote last week.

House Bill 238, stirred up controversary from opponents who claimed that state statues already covered murder and manslaughter. During a Criminal Justice committee hearing last Spring, Rep. Dick Marston, a Manchester Republican, voiced opposition, saying that the laws already cover murder and manslaughter and that “there’s no way in heck that you’re going to be able to say ‘Well because he or she was some deviant sexuality that I’m not–‘”

Marston was cut off by committee chairman Daryl Abbas, a Salem Republican, who gaveled him down and rebuked him for the derogatory language the Concord-Monitor reported

Later, the committee Republicans blocked an effort to move the bill out of committee alleging it needed more work and was not necessary because a jury could already strike down a similar attempted defense. The bill was then stalled in the committee, effectively killing it from being pushed further in last year’s session.

As the measure now heads to the state Senate, New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of the ‘gay panic’ as a defense.

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