By Calvin Freiburger
Ohio is the latest state in which lawmakers have introduced legislation to ban the teaching of far-left critical race theory (CRT) in public schools, this time with the added step of protecting a teacher’s right to refuse to promote gender-fluid ideology.
HB 322 forbids school officials from requiring that educators “discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs” (and requires that teachers who choose to do so “strive to explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives”); requiring students to engage in political lobbying or protesting for class credit; or teaching that any race or sex is inherently superior, shameful, or oppressive, that members of different races shouldn’t engage each other in a color-blind manner, that present members of one race bear responsibility for the past crimes of others, that hard work is a concept inherently belonging to or at odds with any one races, or that slavery was not merely a grievous sin of past Americans, but was fundamentally intertwined with the United States’ founding principles.
It also bars school districts from accepting private funds for the purpose of “curriculum development, purchase or selection of curricular materials, teacher training, professional development, or continuing teacher education” on history, civics, or politics-related subjects; and ensures that teachers cannot be forced to “affirm a belief in the systemic nature of racism, or like ideas, or in the multiplicity or fluidity of gender identities, or like ideas, against the teacher’s sincerely held religious or philosophical convictions.”
“The government is giving that to teachers as a kind of ‘save yourself’ from getting fired for not believing in transgender rights,” LGBT activist Daniel Tirabassi complained to CBS affiliate WKBN. But one of the bill’s authors, Republican state Rep. Don Jones, responded that “HB 322 is an anti-discrimination bill that promotes equality. Anything to the contrary is wrong. The bill also reinforces teachers’ basic rights that they not be compelled by the government to adopt any belief systems and indoctrinate their students with those teachings.”
The bulk of the new language is meant to quash the taxpayer-subsidized propagation of critical race theory, a doctrine that asserts race is a “socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour,” and that “law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.”
Critical race theory’s spread in public schools has been a topic of growing concern on the Right. Conservatives argue that it stokes racial divisions rather than healing them; former President Donald Trump worked to remove it from federal training programs and publicly advocated its removal from public education. One of President Joe Biden’s first acts was to dismantle Trump’s 1776 Commission, an antidote to the race-minded, error-riddled 1619 Project that called for educational curricula focused on teaching students to understand and embrace the founding principles of the United States.