ST. PAUL — Critics of “critical race theory” on Monday, July 26, announced they are filing lawsuits against the Hennepin Healthcare System, the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Lakeville School District, accusing them of bullying or retaliating against employees, students and parents by promoting what they call a racially divisive and demeaning ideology.

Doug Seaton, attorney for the plaintiffs, said at a state Capitol news conference that the three institutions are telling their employees and students that white people are oppressors who benefit from systemic racism and that Black people are oppressed by whites who are intrinsically racist whatever they do.

Seaton, the president of the Upper Midwest Law Center, which works with the conservative Twin Cities think tank Center of the American Experiment, said his clients are seeking to end propagandizing of critical race theory (CRT) at the institutions.

While CRT has become a buzzword in conservative politics and media, the actual theory is an academic framework taught in graduate-level courses. It contends that racism is structural — that is, that racism is built into American culture and entrenched in American institutions.

Doug Seaton, president of the Upper Midwest Law Center, on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, spoke with reporters at the Capitol about a lawsuit he filed on behalf of Energy Policy Advocates claiming requests for data were wrongly denied. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
Doug Seaton, president of the Upper Midwest Law Center, on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, spoke with reporters at the Capitol about a lawsuit he filed on behalf of Energy Policy Advocates claiming requests for data were wrongly denied. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

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Dr. Tara Gustilo, a Hennepin Health physician, said she filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging the health system discriminated against her by demoting her as chair of their obstetrics and gynecology department after she objected to a hospital program that she believed promoted more “racially segregated care.”

“I shouldn’t be demoted or retaliated against because I don’t agree with the racially divisive and demeaning CRT ideology,” she said.

Aaron Norgren said he is suing his employer, the state human services department, for disciplining him for refusing to participate in “anti-racist” training that promoted the notion that “if your skin is not a certain color, you’re a racist.”

A DHS spokesperson said Monday the lawsuit had not been served on the department and they didn’t have information about it. Representatives for Hennepin Healthcare and the Lakeville school district could not be reached for comment late Monday afternoon.

Bob Cajune of Lakeville said he will file a federal lawsuit against that city’s school district for posting “Black Lives Matter” posters in its buildings while disallowing “All Live Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” signs. Black lives do matter, he said at the press conference, but prohibiting expression of other viewpoints is political discrimination.

The goal of the three lawsuits is “political neutrality” in classrooms and public institutions, Seaton said, who added, “CRT will create or exacerbate racism.”