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The New Hampshire chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-NH) is asking a federal court to block the implementation of a state law intended to prohibit the teaching of divisive concepts associated with critical race theory (CRT).
Passed this summer, HB2 prohibits public employees from teaching that individuals are inferior, superior, should be discriminated against, or are inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive as a result of various aspects of their identity (race, sex, creed, marital status, etc…).
AFT-NH’s lawsuit, announced on Monday, alleges that the statute violates teachers’ First Amendment right to free speech.
Deb Howes, who serves as AFT-NH president, said in a statement: “This law has created fear among teachers who are not actually violating any New Hampshire law, but fear they could be targeted without evidence by people with a political agenda. Educators are terrified of losing their teaching license over simply trying to teach. This is something I never thought would happen in America.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten suggested that the law would hinder teaching of issues, like Japanese internment during WWII.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu announces that he is seeking a fourth term as governor of New Hampshire, instead of running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, during a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Concord, New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)
“We must teach both our triumphs and our mistakes, whether it’s enslavement, Japanese internment or the treatment of those with disabilities,” she said in the group’s press release.
But in a statement provided to Fox News, Gov. Chris Sununu, R-N.H., denied the law would prevent teaching about American history.
“Nothing in this language prevents schools from teaching any aspect of American history, such as teaching about racism, sexism, or slavery — it simply ensures that children will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, sexual identity, or religion,” he said.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, along with members of Congress, parents and caregiving advocates hold a press conference supporting Build Back Better investments in home care, childcare, paid leave and expanded CTC payments in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on Oct. 21, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising Together)
AFT-NH alleges, however, that the state law is “unconstitutionally” and “hopelessly vague” and subsequent state guidance has failed to clarify its effects.
It pointed to a document from the Department of Education, Commission for Human Rights and Department of Justice. That document answered a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” such as “Are schools allowed to teach students historical concepts related to discrimination?”
When outlining which ideas teachers are prohibited from teaching, it reads, in part: “In short, do not teach that a person or a group is inherently oppressive, superior, inferior, racist, or sexist. Teach and treat all equally and without discrimination.”