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David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released the following statement regarding efforts to suppress discussions on race, sex diversity and inclusion in education today: 

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law condemns the national assault on anti-racismanti-sexism, and anti-genderism education efforts taking place in several states across the country. Thus far, four state legislatures (Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee) have passed bills seeking to censor what students are taught and how they are taught about racism, sexism, bias, and discrimination, and at least 13 other states have considered or are considering such extremist bills, based on the national Lawyers’ Committee’s latest analysis. In addition, some state governors, including Florida and Georgia, seek to take action to repeal the national call for racial and gender justice. The national Lawyers’ Committee stands ready to commit its resources and advocate with historically marginalized students, communities, and key stakeholders to defeat these efforts and ensure schools nurture and challenge our next generation of civic participants and leaders.  

In response to the killings of innocent Black persons and worldwide protests, the national reckoning on racial justice has revealed a strong desire to confront the role of systemic discrimination and racism, which runs deep in our nation’s institutions, including its public schools. At a minimum, racial justice requires that we understand the history of racism and the normalization of white supremacy. Several school districts nationwide have responded to ensurtheir students and teachers are correctly informed on racism, as well as sexism and gender justice issues, with long overdue training on these issues and the importance of diversity and inclusion. Others have explored opportunities to have more inclusive curriculum addressing historical racism and discrimination, including the 1619 Project. These critical reforms are not only necessary to achieve racial justice, but they are part and parcel to an excellent education for all students. 

“However, this reckoning with racial injustice has been met by radical extremists who oppose all forms of racial, sex, and gender equality and seek to undermine education’s role as “the very foundation of good citizenship,” Brown v. Board of Education (1954). This highly politicized bedlam in state capitols comes on the heels of former President Trump’s failed Executive Order 13950, which was stopped in its tracks by a federal court for violating the free speech rights of Americans. Threatened by a growing, diverse, well-educated, and engaged student populace, legislators are going after the rights of educators and students by targeting diversity training in schools and critical instruction on the history of racism, sexism, and discrimination in this nation’s founding and present-day inequalities. Texas has gone so far as to prohibit teachers from requiring students to participate in nonpartisan civic engagement. These mal-informed tactics aim to strip the very foundation for education’s important role in our democracy by chilling open discussion and debate, restricting civic engagement, and impairing critical thought in classrooms across the country.  

The national Lawyers’ Committee’s Educational Opportunities Project is ready to partner to combat these divisive threats to racial and gender equality and our democracy. We call on students, communities, educators, school and district leaders, social justice and civil rights groups, and other stakeholders to reach out to us to share your concerns and discuss potential collaboration.   

Please contact David Hinojosa and Bryanna Jenkins with the Educational Opportunities Project at [email protected].    

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About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes.  For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.