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
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
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
“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
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.
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