Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Jordan Vonderhaar/Shutterstock)

Texas Governor Approves Bill Banning Discussions of Race and Racism Within State’s Schools

Texas lawmakers continue to astound with the number of racist, transphobic laws they are willing to try to write into law. 

In the last few months alone, we’ve seen Texas lawmakers draft legislation that would penalize parents who support and help their transgender children access gender-affirming care with jail time — or even have their children taken away. We’ve also seen Texas attempt to pass one of the most restrictive, anti-Black voter reform bills in the country — a move prevented only after Democrats stormed out of the House of Representatives, leaving membership too low for the bill to officially pass. 

And now, Biba Adams of The Grio reported that “Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law legislation that will dictate how [the state’s] educators discuss current events, particularly race and racism, making Texas the latest Republican-led state aiming to ban the teaching of ‘critical race theory.’”

The new law is set to go into effect on September 1st and will ban all teaching of The New York Times’ acclaimed 1619 Project within the state.

According to Adams, the 1619 Project is based around a collection of essays released to commemorate the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to America. The project was spearheaded by Nikole Hannah-Jones, who has since won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the work and “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative.”

The 1619 Project has been a popular target for many conservatives ever since it was published. Many critics claim it is either inaccurate, offensive or, perhaps most appropriately, “makes white people feel guilty for their privilege.” 

“Supporters of the legislation were concerned that critical race theory ‘unfairly’ blames white people for historical wrongs and distorts the accomplishments of the founding fathers,” Adams reported.

In addition to Democrats within the state, Texas educators are also outraged by the bill’s passage.

In a statement, the American Federation of Teachers said, “the bill is part of a national movement by conservatives trying to sow a narrative of students being indoctrinated by teachers. Our members rightfully have expressed outrage against this insult of their professionalism to provide balanced conversations with students on controversial issues.”

According to Adams, “the bill states that teachers cannot be ‘compelled’ to discuss current events and if they do, they must ‘give deference to both sides.’ That note has been interpreted to aim at classroom discussions about Black Lives Matter or racial issues in America. Opponents say it will cause teachers to have to equivocate on important issues or not discuss them at all, making for less-informed students.”

Compounding the already offensive Texas bill, legislators also tacked on a list of addendums before it was approved, including a number of additional historical documents written by women and people of color that can’t be taught in Texas school; a mandate that all students must be taught “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement and the Ku Klux Klan and the ways in which it is morally wrong”; a rule prohibiting teachers from being trained on critical race theory; and another stipulation prohibiting students from getting credit for “participating in protests or other activism.”

 

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

 

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