Home Posts In Protest, The Majority Of New Hampshire's Republican Governor's Diversity Council Resigns.
In Protest, The Majority Of New Hampshire's Republican Governor's Diversity Council Resigns.

In Protest, The Majority Of New Hampshire's Republican Governor's Diversity Council Resigns.

Ten of the 17 members of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu's (R) diversity and inclusion council have resigned in protest of the governor's signing of a new law restricting how public school teachers and other government employees can discuss racism.

“It should not be taken lightly that nearly every member of the Council who is not a member of your administration is resigning today, as we collectively see no path forward with this legislation in place,” the resigning members wrote in a letter to Sununu, which included the executive director of the New Hampshire ACLU, educators, doctors, and children’s advocates.

Sununu established the council in 2017 with the goal of “fighting discrimination and advancing the goals of diversity and inclusion.”

He signed House Bill 2, a policy-focused “trailer bill” that passed along party lines in the GOP-controlled legislature last week, which, among other things, prohibits public schools and government employees from teaching about systemic racism and bias.

State Rep. Jim Maggiore (D) told Stardia that he voted against the bill because he "could not in good conscience support language restricting Granite Staters' free speech." He was one of ten council members who resigned on Tuesday.

Part of the real danger of this bill, and it may very well be the purpose of it, is that it will cause people to censor themselves when having these important conversations about race out of fear of being sued.

Devon Chaffee, the ACLU of New Hampshire's executive director

The resigning governor's council members called HB2 an attempt to "censor conversations essential to advancing equity and inclusion in our state, particularly for those within our public education systems and all state employees," and said it would "directly impact those who work with some of our state's most vulnerable populations, including educators, child welfare workers, and law enforcement officers."

“Governor, we feel compelled to inform you that, contrary to your recent public statements, systemic racism does exist here in New Hampshire,” they added.

Sununu responded to the news by saying that the council had already been in a "transition" since the death of the former chairman, Rogers Johnson, in 2020, who was president of the NAACP Seacoast chapter.

Sununu also chastised the ACLU for introducing “politics into an otherwise fruitful mission of addressing many issues of race and discrimination in our state.”

“Many people have expressed a willingness to join these efforts as we emerge from the pandemic, and we have already begun filling these vacancies with representatives from all walks of life,” he added.

Devon Chaffee, executive director of the ACLU of New Hampshire, who resigned from the council, stated that she and her organization did not initiate the mass resignation; they were brought into the process later; and that they did not contact the state employees on the council because it would be unfair to put pressure on them to resign.

“Part of the real danger of this bill, and it may very well be the point of it, is that it causes people to censor themselves in having these important conversations about race because they are afraid of facing a lawsuit,” Chaffee told Stardia. “What this bill does is it allows individuals in communities to file legal complaints against their local school, or it allows a disgruntled employee who doesn’t want to work for the school to file a legal complaint against the school.

“That creates a fearful environment, and we are already seeing this, where teachers are unsure what they can and cannot discuss in the classrooms, and where government employers are unsure what they can and cannot require their employees to learn and engage in,” she added.

Republican state legislators in dozens of states have been pushing legislation to limit how teachers can discuss race and bias, preventing them from discussing systemic racism and white privilege.

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