DEI language removed from McHenry County Women’s History Month proclamation

Republican board member took issue with reference to diverity, equity and inclusion, calling it ‘dogma of the far left’

McHenry County Board members during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.

The McHenry County Board voted to approve a Women’s History Month proclamation this week. But while the declaration was non-binding, it wasn’t without controversy.

The final version of the proclamation removed a reference to the 2024 theme of Women’s History Month, “Women who advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion,” dubbed so by the National Women’s History Alliance. Board member Kelli Wegener, D-Crystal Lake, said the National Women’s History Alliance picks a theme every year that has a “positive message of inclusion for all people.”

At an earlier meeting March 14, board member Terri Greeno, R-Crystal Lake, expressed opposition to the proclamation, calling content in it the “dogma of the far left” and specifically calling out diversity, equity and inclusion. “It is not the business of this board to engage in identity politics,” Greeno said.

Greeno did not attend the board meeting Tuesday, when the proclamation was voted on, but the paragraph about diversity, equity and inclusion had been removed from the final version. Several Democratic members of the board spoke out against the removal of the paragraph Tuesday, with board member Gloria Van Hof, D-Crystal Lake, noting diversity is in the county’s strategic plan. Van Hof also said she felt it was important for people to know what the paragraph was and read a paragraph that wasn’t deleted. She later tried to read the deleted paragraph but board member Jim Kearns, R-Huntley, called a “point of order” and Van Hof ultimately didn’t read the paragraph aloud.

In the county’s current strategic plan, one of the goals is to “encourage diversity and welcomeness within the county.” In a plan update in January, county leaders touched on other proclamations, which tend to be symbolic, that have been approved including ones for Black History Month and LGBTQ Pride Month, among others.

Board member Lou Ness, D-Woodstock, was the sole “no” in a voice vote on the proclamation Tuesday. She clarified she would have voted for the resolution if it hadn’t been “sanitized.”

“I really feel like this proclamation is a disgrace to the women in McHenry County,” Ness said at the meeting. Ness also condemned Greeno’s comments about the proclamation, saying they had “no place on the County Board.”

Board member Carolyn Campbell, D-Crystal Lake, said the proclamation removed language that “reflects a concept that we value the input of a broad spectrum of our population without bias or favoritism.”

“It’s hard to comprehend why this is an issue at all,” Campbell said about the concept of diversity, equity and inclusion.

McHenry County Board Chair Mike Buehler didn’t respond to a request for comment about why the proclamation wording was changed.

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