The following statement was entered into testimony at a hearing of the New Hampshire House Committee on Executive Departments and Administration on February 11, 2021. Update, February 17: the hearing on HB 544 was continued to Thursday, February 18 at 1:30 pm. The virtual public hearing can be joined via this link: https://zoom.us/j/97238685330
As an institution dedicated to strong, just and inclusive New Hampshire communities, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation firmly opposes HB 544.
This bill would have a chilling effect on nonprofits, educators, private employers, state agencies and others engaged in the important work of educating about and counteracting racism, sexism and other inequities to help make our communities better for all of us.
HB 544 is antithetical to the pursuit of free inquiry, to authentic exploration of history and current events, to freedom of speech, and to local control.
Events of the past year have spurred a long-overdue period of reflection about the realities of race and racism. Black, indigenous and other people of color face disproportionate and structural barriers to basic rights including in health, housing, education, criminal justice and civic participation. We cannot work toward greater equity and justice if we cannot engage in honest discussion about the roots of inequity and injustice and their possible remedies.
As a funder of nonprofit organizations that provide and engage in diversity training and education, the Charitable Foundation stands in full support of their ability to continue to do so without constraint or under threat of such a law. As a provider of scholarships to thousands of New Hampshire students who deserve an authentic education about our history, the Charitable Foundation supports the right of New Hampshire’s colleges and universities to provide that education honestly and without threat of legal repercussions. As an organization that has had contractual agreements to assist the State of New Hampshire, we could not agree to these restrictions in future collaborations.
The now-rescinded federal executive order that this bill seems to emulate was rightly opposed by groups as varied as the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Council on Education.
The future of our state, our shared prosperity and well-being, depend on all people being fully welcomed and valued, able to reach their potential and to help sustain their communities. The passage of this bill would detract from, not contribute to, our shared well-being and prosperity. It would serve as a force for division – sending a chilling message to all Granite Staters, and exactly the wrong message to the rest of the country about the Granite State.
We believe this bill is contrary to shared American ideals and antithetical to values that New Hampshire holds dear and respectfully encourage the committee to determine it is inexpedient to legislate.