Ban on Race, Gender Theories in Oklahoma Schools Draws ACLU Suit
(Bloomberg) -- Oklahoma’s ban on classroom discussion of certain theories of race or gender violates the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee, the American Civil Liberties Union said.
The civil-rights group on Tuesday filed what it said was the first constitutional challenge to laws targeting critical race theory and diversity education that have been promoted by Republican politicians across the country. The office of Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who signed the law in May, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The law lists several concepts that are banned from Oklahoma schools, including that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”
ACLU lawyer Emerson Sykes said in a statement that the law was so vague and poorly drafted “that districts and teachers have no way of knowing what concepts and ideas are prohibited.”
The suit in federal court in Oklahoma City also says the law warps the teaching of history by preventing students and teachers from having an “open and complete dialogue” about the experiences and viewpoints of historically marginalized communities in the U.S. “All young people deserve to learn an inclusive and accurate history in schools, free from censorship or discrimination,” Sykes said.
Conservative commentators have heavily pushed in recent years the idea that certain academic theories, particularly critical race theory, have fostered racism and discrimination against White men.
The suit alleges that Republican-led states are taking their cues from former President Donald Trump, who in 2020 “took a series of actions to publicly attack and suppress speech with which he disagreed, including speech that sought to address bias, prejudice, and discrimination in the workplace and to dismantle systemic racism and sexism.”
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