ACLU Sues Oklahoma Over Law Prohibiting Teaching of Critical Race Theory

The fight against the concept of critical race theory and the “danger” it supposedly poses to American schools continues, this time with a new ACLU lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma.

CNN’s Madeline Holcombe has reported that “a group of students and educators have filed a complaint challenging an Oklahoma law that restricts teaching about race and gender, in what the American Civil Liberties Union calls the first federal lawsuit to challenge such a statewide ban.”

According to Holcombe, “the suit — backed by the ACLU, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Oklahoma state conference of the NAACP and the American Indian Movement (AIM) Indian Territory — seeks to block enforcement of the law it says inhibits free speech and education of complete history through the framework of critical race theory.”

Currently, more than two dozen states have taken action to ban any teaching surrounding the concept of critical race theory in their schools.

The Oklahoma law involved in the suit — HB 1775 — does not actually mention the term “critical race theory” but is, instead, masked as an “anti-discrimination” bill. However, its goal in blocking speech on the subject is clear: teachers are prohibited from teaching any concept that states “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex” or that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

Should an educator break the law, they face possible suspension or loss of their teaching license.

The ACLU suit also calls out the biased teaching after the law went into effect in July 2021. According to the lawsuit, the vagueness of the terms “left many educators to err on the side of caution, striking Black and female authors from their reading lists while leaving in place texts by White and male authors.”

“Teachers have received guidance to comply with HB 1775 by avoiding terms such as ‘diversity’ and ‘white privilege,’ while administrators have simultaneously acknowledged that ‘no one truly knows what [the Act] means or can come to an agreement on its meaning,’” the lawsuit states.

In an interview with CNN, State Rep. Kevin West, who authored HB 1775, said the ACLU lawsuit was “full of half-truths” and “blatant lies.”

“It is unfortunate, but not surprising, to see radical leftist organizations supporting the racist indoctrination of our children that HB 1775 was written to stop,” West said in a statement. “The law ensures that all history is taught in schools without shaming the children of today into blaming themselves for problems of the past, as radical leftists would prefer.”

However, the ACLU insists the bill negatively impacts students’ ability to “exchange ideas, engage in discussions and study history.”

“All young people deserve to learn an inclusive and accurate history in schools, free from censorship or discrimination,” Emerson Sykes, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told Holcombe in an interview. “The bill was intended to inflame a political reaction, not further a legitimate educational interest.”


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


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