Lawsuit Filed In New Hampshire To Block 'Diverse Concepts' Law

The law regulates how teachers can discuss racism and discrimination with their students

A second lawsuit was filed against New Hampshire over its law barring the instruction of race, sexual orientation, gender identity and similar concepts in public and state-funded schools.

The National Educational Association of New Hampshire and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire filed a lawsuit on Dec. 20 in the United States District Court of New Hampshire seeking to have the “diverse concepts” policy overturned.

New Hampshire passed HB 2 in June and it was signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu. Included in the state’s budget, the bill bans teachers from “teaching that individuals are inherently racist due to their skin color,” per Breitbart.

During a press briefing this week, the legal director of the ACLU of New Hampshire Gilles Bissonnette called the policy “an attack on educators who are simply doing their job.”

“This unconstitutionally vague law disallows students from receiving the inclusive, complete education they deserve, and from having important conversations on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity in the classroom,” she said.

Bissonnette said the law “erases the legacy of discrimination and lived experiences of Black and Brown people, women and girls, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities.”

In a statement, the ACLU said the lawsuit was challenging the censorship of discussion on the classroom.

The New Hampshire lawsuit argues that HB2’s vague language unconstitutionally chills educators’ voices under the 14th Amendment, and prevents students from having an open and complete dialogue about the perspectives of historically marginalized communities, as well as on topics concerning race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability,” the organization said.

The ACLU also said HB2 “is so unclear and vague that it fails to provide necessary guidance to educators about what they can and cannot include in their courses” and “invites arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement — up to and including the loss of teaching licenses.”

The ACLU is also opposed to two other policies that will be considered in the upcoming legislative session. This includes HB 1255, which restricts the instruction of “any doctrine or theory promoting a negative account or representation of the founding and history of the United States,” and HB 1313, which would prohibit the instructions of Critical Race Theory tenants at public higher educational institutions.

The NEA-NH, which joined the ACLU in the legal action, represents over 17,000 educators, including a majority of the state’s public school employees. 

The American Federation of Teachers of New Hampshire (AFT-NH) filed a lawsuit against the state challenging HB 2 on Dec. 14. The organization contends that the policy violates teachers’ right to free speech as protected by the First Amendment.

By attempting to restrict the way discrimination, diversity, bias, justice and struggle is viewed or taught, the measure puts educators at the center of a nightmare scenario: They would be required to comply with a law that appears to be at odds with the state’s constitution and its law mandating a robust and well-rounded public school education — an education that includes the teaching of accurate, honest history and current events,” the AFT-NH said in a statement. “At last count, New Hampshire has become one of eight Republican-controlled states that have passed laws aimed at censoring discussions around race and gender in classrooms, prompted by a conservative-led and -manufactured ‘crisis’ over critical race theory. Dozens more are considering similar legislation.”

Governor Sununu has spoken out in support of the law. He told Fox News the bill would not prevent accurate instruction of American history but instead protected students from discrimination. 

“Nothing in this language prevents schools from teaching any aspect of American history, such as teaching about racism, sexism, or slavery,” the governor said. “It simply ensures that children will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, sexual identity, or religion.”

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