House Bill 312 takes aim at “divisive concepts” taught in public K-12 schools as well as institutions of higher education. It passed 65-32 Thursday with overwhelming Republican support. The bill heads to the state Senate for consideration.
Here are just a few lessons the bill purports to prohibit:
- “That this state or the United States is inherently racist or sexist.”
- “That an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
- "That any individual should be asked to accept, acknowledge, affirm, or assent to a sense of guilt, complicity, or a need to work harder solely on the basis of his or her race or sex.”
- “That fault, blame, or bias should be assigned to a race, sex, or religion, or to members of a race, sex, or religion, solely on the basis of their race, sex, or religion.”
The bill says these concepts can be taught in higher education only “in an objective manner and without endorsement.”
It’s similar to other bills — which I’ve labeled “sad white people laws” — passed by GOP-led legislatures across the country looking to block discussions of historic inequality and the ways it is upheld today. And it’s absolutely deranged.
The bill’s repeated reference to “inherent” wrongdoing by a race or gender — and its obsession with feelings of guilt — is more of an indicator of white self-consciousness than an indicator of what's actually being taught in schools. The types of lessons Alabama Republicans are targeting, for example, likely don't teach that racism or sexism — which is also rampant in Alabama — are innate to anyone, but instead that they’re taught behaviors.
But as the raft of voter suppression laws and anti-abortion laws being pushed nationwide illustrates, the Republican Party is widely invested in continuing to teach those behaviors. And bills like H.B. 312 aren’t just meant to hide the country's history of racism and sexism, but also prevent Americans from recognizing that the GOP is trying to repeat that history today.