Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a law Wednesday banning the public school system from incorporating Critical Race Theory (CRT), which teaches that America is intrinsically, historically, and systematically racist, into classroom curricula.
CRT more specifically professes the idea that individuals of a particular race or creed bear responsibility and partial guilt for the wrongdoings and crimes committed by that identity group in the past. HB 3979, sponsored by Texas Representative Steve Toth, aims to limit indoctrination of critical race theory in public schools.
In response to mainstream media spin meant to mischaracterize his bill, Toth clarified in an interview with National Review that “The facts are very clear, very explicit, we don’t ban, we don’t discourage the discussion of anything.”
“The response from the left is to lie, obfuscate, which is really sad. Because they are the ones discouraging an honest discussion,” he added.
Toth said he received reports from parents concerned with their children learning CRT and teachers fearful that their jobs would be jeopardized if they didn’t promote race-based discrimination in their courses.
“Teachers are in the crosshairs of critical race theory,” Toth said. “They’re reaching out to me to share examples of how they’re being threatened, that if they don’t teach critical race theory, they’re going to lose their job.”
While Toth’s legislation does not technically include the term “Critical Race Theory,” it stipulates that schools are forbidden from teaching that “an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual ’s race or sex.”
Moreover, the bill prevents schools from making students adopt “an understanding of The 1619 Project,” per an amendment added by Toth. The initiative, first published in the New York Times Magazine, is designed to unearth America’s racist roots and “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative.”
The bill also prohibits schools from teaching that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
While the legislation constrains the scope of permitted instruction on race relations in the United States, it lists certain historical texts that can be included in course material, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream” speech. It also requires that students be taught “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.”
Abbott’s signature comes as multiple Republican governors and Republican-dominated state legislatures have passed or enacted similar laws and executive orders to curtail the movement to include CRT in public school teaching.