What is HB 2281?
In 2010, the same year that Arizona passed the nation's toughest law on illegal immigration, Governor Jan Brewer signed another bill - HB 2281. This bill restricts public school districts from offering ethnic studies classes and prohibits programs in schools that, "promote resentment toward a race or class of people" or, "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." Coming off the heels of SB 1070, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne was adamant about cutting Mexican-American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District. He devised HB 2281 under the belief that the program was teaching "destructive ethnic chauvinism and that Mexican American students are oppressed".
Two years later – after an administrative law judge ruled that the program violated a state law – the Governing Board of the Tucson Unified suspended the Mexican-American studies program. School officials confiscated books, effectively shutting down a program that’s especially beneficial to students of color.
Why is HB 2281 Important to Discuss?
According to a recent ruling HB 2281 violated students' constitutional rights. Federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima clearly ruled that the state showed discriminatory intent when it essentially shut down a Mexican-American studies program at Tucson Unified School District and that "both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus."
Practices of censorship against indigenous communities has been historically used as a tool to culturally suppress and regulate the voices, histories, and experiences of these communities, and these violations continue today as evidenced by HB 2281. But librarians, students, and teachers and activists like Librotraficante Tony Díaz took a stand against censorship and helped to spread awareness of the importance of access to books and education.