Teachers, parents challenge New Hampshire’s anti-CRT legislation in federal lawsuit

Kendall Tietz, DCNF

  • Anti-CRT legislation in New Hampshire is being challenged by teachers and parents in a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court.
  • The New Hampshire affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), along with three teachers and two parents, filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire. The defendants are Frank Edelblut, the state’s Department of Education commissioner, Christian Kim, the chair of the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Republican New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella.
  • “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,” Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Anti-CRT legislation in New Hampshire is being challenged by teachers and parents in a complaint filed Monday in federal court.

The New Hampshire affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), along with three teachers and two parents of children in public schools, filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire. The defendants are Frank Edelblut, the state’s Department of Education commissioner, Christian Kim, the chair of the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Republican New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella.

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed House Bill 2, which bans some teaching of concepts, including the tenets Critical Race Theory (CRT), into law in June. Similar legislation has been put in place in other states led by Republican governors.

The law outlines restricted concepts that purport a certain race or sex is inherently superior or inferior to another or that say an individual is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, by virtue of characteristics such as their race, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

The complaint states that the anti-CRT statute has a “chilling effect not just on teachers’ constitutionally protected rights but, as a result, on the education students must have to prepare for life, college, careers and citizenship.”

The complaint also argues that the statute prevents “ideas and societal concerns not to [the defendants’] liking, thereby curtailing speech, limiting the free exchange of ideas within our classrooms and depriving New Hampshire students of their constitutionally and statutorily guaranteed right to an adequate education.”

“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,” Sununu said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The complaint called the statute vague and said it would be difficult for public school teachers to understand or comply with.

Formella clarified in a September letter how the law should be applied and explained that trainings on sensitivity and implicit bias could continue. He also said the law “does not prohibit discussion of historical concepts related to discrimination” but that it does not allow curricula that teach one group is inherently superior, inferior, racist, sexist or oppressive.

The complaint claimed the legislation brought partisanship into classrooms and “ignited the fires of confrontation and discord” that “can be used for political purposes to target teachers directly.”

AFT released a press release in response to the lawsuit, saying that the suit “puts educators at the center of a nightmare scenario.”

“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,” the release said.

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