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ROUNDUP: Sununu Faces Backlash Over Signing Budget That Bans Discussions About Race, Gender

ROUNDUP: Sununu Faces Backlash Over Signing Budget That Bans Important Discussions About Race, Gender, and Diversity

Governor Sununu is facing serious backlash after signing a budget into law that bans teachers and public employees from discussing our country’s history, including issues related to racism and sexism. This week, 10 members of Sununu’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion resigned over the Governor's refusal to listen to their concerns about the budget. The resignations from the Diversity Council — along with the Governor’s embrace of censorship — has drawn national headlines and the condemnation of editorial boards. Washington Post: N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu Backs Limits on Teaching About Race — and a Majority of His Diversity Council Quits

Here’s more fallout from the new push by Republican-led states to limit what teachers can say about race and other forms of oppression: A majority of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s diversity council has quit after he signed new restrictions into law that affect educators as well as public employees.


The letter says that the governor’s action “is in direct conflict with the stated purpose of the Council laid out in your 2018 Executive Order instructing us to identify ways to ‘combat discrimination and advance diversity and inclusion.’ ”

Sununu was, at least in his words, opposed to the divisive concepts bill before he was for it. Just as he was opposed to the extreme abortion ban also folded into the budget legislation, until he signed it. Of that, Sununu said he still opposes the ban, but that it’s not enough to veto the entire budget over. Funny, he never found any problem in vetoing any of the Democratic-led Legislature’s 80-odd bills he whacked over the past two years, including the entire state budget. In each case, he swore it wasn’t partisan politics at play, but a matter of principle. Maybe the key principle at play was keeping the favor of the state’s conservative voters.

Ten of the 17 members of the Governor’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion resigned Tuesday because of the state budget language that included a watered-down version of the prohibition against teaching “divisive concepts” such as racism and sexism. Dr. Dottie Morris, vice chairman of the council that was created by Gov. Chris Sununu on Dec. 14, 2017, was one of the 10 who resigned.

More than half of Gov. Chris Sununu’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion resigned Tuesday, saying his decision to sign a state budget that limits the discussion of systemic racism and other topics has derailed the work they were appointed to do. In their resignation letter, 10 of the 18 members said the budget provision is in direct conflict with the mission they were given in December 2017 when Sununu created the group.

In the letter, members added their disappointment that Sununu had supported and signed legislation that critics say would bar public school teachers and state employees from teaching that white privilege and other forms of structural bias definitively exist in modern society. That language – previously referred to as the “divisive concepts” bill – was added to the state budget by the Legislature and signed into law by Sununu on June 25.

Gov. Chris Sununu blamed the ACLU of New Hampshire Tuesday for politicizing the mission of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion after more than half of the panel’s members resigned in protest...“It is unfortunate that the ACLU has tried to insert politics into an otherwise fruitful mission in addressing many issues of race and discrimination in our state.”

While the law’s language was recast as “freedom from discrimination” in schools and public workplaces, the original bill sought to ban certain “divisive concepts” such as the discussion of critical race theory and white privilege...One of the organizations pushing back against the New Hampshire legislation, which was largely modeled after an executive order by former President Donald Trump, was the ACLU of New Hampshire. It’s executive director, Devon Chaffee, was one of the council members to resign.

Sharon Harris, one of those who resigned, said the council shared its concerns about the new regulations with Sununu and asked to meet with him about it but never heard back. She said those who had left the council still believed in its original mission.

In their resignation letter, the council members told Sununu that they believe systemic racism exists in New Hampshire and that the "divisive concepts" bill would weaken the state's anti-discrimination laws. "Given your willingness to sign this damaging provision and make it law, we are no longer able to serve as your advisors," they wrote. "... It should not be taken lightly that nearly every member of the Council that is not part of your administration is resigning today, as we collectively see no path forward with this legislation in place."

The resigning members of the governor’s council called HB2 an attempt to “censor conversations essential to advancing equity and inclusion in our state, specifically for those within our public education systems, and all state employees,” saying it will “directly impact those who are working with some of our state’s most vulnerable populations, including educators, child welfare workers, and law enforcement.”

In their letter, the 10 resigning members said they had continuously worked to deliver their findings to Sununu. His disregard of their work means they can no longer fulfill their duties, they wrote.


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