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Gov. Stitt signs bill limiting race, gender curriculums in Oklahoma schools

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Posted at 4:50 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 22:52:13-04

OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Friday that he signed a bill limiting race and gender curriculums in Oklahoma schools.

According to lawmakers, House Bill 1775 will prohibit state public schools, colleges, and universities from incorporating certain messages about sex and race into any course instruction.

“This bill will in no way stop the teaching of history or anything currently in our Oklahoma education standards, including curriculum that shows historical examples of racism or genocide,” said Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, who authored the bill. “This bill simply says that teachers can’t force a student to answer that they are inherently racist or sexist or that they must feel personally responsible for things perpetrated in the past by people of a similar race or gender.”

West said state public schools and universities are currently teaching the curriculum and requiring the training. He said much of the curriculum known as “Critical Race Theory” is based on Marxist ideology that is designed to teach children to hate American exceptionalism and distrust others based on skin color or gender.

Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, a co-author of the bill added, “In a time when our country must unify and work through problems together, the last thing our students need is to learn divisive rhetoric not based in fact. We should be teaching the fundamental equality that is part of the American ideal, not teaching kids that by virtue of their race or sex they bear some sort of responsibility for past atrocities.”

The bill states that no teacher, administrator or other employee of a school district, charter school or virtual charter school shall require or make part of a course the following concepts:

  • one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,
  • an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,
  • an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex,
  • members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex,
  • an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex,
  • 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,
  • any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex, or
  • meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.

In addition, the bill would prohibit requiring mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling in the schools.

“These trainings have our students taking multiple choice tests asking them a litany of questions about gender and sexual diversity,” West said. “If they get the question incorrect according to the parameters of the test, it does not move onto the next question, but rather it makes them choose answers until they land on the approved choice. This is a blatant attempt to indoctrinate our children to not think for themselves, but rather think how the test program would like them to think.”

Stitt released a video statement about his decision to sign the bill into law.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission expressed its disappointment in state lawmakers and Stitt for supporting the bill.

We are extremely disappointed that Oklahoma Legislators, including Governor Stitt, chose to support HB1775 which diametrically opposes the work of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission.

No matter how poorly written, the intention of the bill clearly aims to limit teaching the racial implications of America’s history. The bill serves no purpose than to fuel the racism and denial that afflicts our communities and our nation. It is a sad day and a stain on Oklahoma.

Despite this effort to squelch the truth-telling and discussion of our past… we will not be moved. We are more dedicated than ever to our mission and we will not accept the ill-conceived constraints that this law seeks to impose through misdirection and deception.

The fact that this bill becomes law 100 years after one of the worst acts of racial violence in our history will be noted throughout the world.

Intentions aside, it is important to note the bill language does not preclude the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre history curriculum being taught in schools or students taking field trips to Greenwood Rising. We look forward to welcoming many students into Greenwood Rising over the coming months and years -- where we will continue to fight for reconciliation, truth-telling and racial healing.

As a fellow Commissioner we thought our Governor would do better; the Commission will have a special meeting Monday evening to discuss upcoming Centennial events and HB1775.

Joseph Harroz, Jr, president of the University of Oklahoma, released a statement about the bill.

Despite our strong objection to it and advocacy against it, today Oklahoma House Bill 1775 was signed into law. This new law prohibits higher education institutions in Oklahoma from requiring students to engage in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling, and from instituting an orientation or requirement for students that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or a bias on the basis of race or sex. Although OU’s mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training does not espouse superiority of one race or sex, its mandatory nature is impacted by the passage of this law. To comply with the law, students may now choose to opt out of the training, though we will strongly encourage them to still take it. The training is one of the many elements that reinforce our belief that the development and preparation of the whole student takes a multi-faceted approach. OU employees – including student employees – are still required to complete the training, along with other necessary and essential employee trainings, such as sexual harassment and workplace safety.

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