Three controversial bills awaiting Gov. Kemp’s signature take aim at “critical race theory” (CRT), banning so-called “divisive concepts,” giving parents more power to moderate what is taught in public schools and making it easier to ban certain educational materials deemed “obscene.”
Proponents of the measures say they are “protecting children” and “empowering parents,” but others fear the bills open the door to book bans and classroom censorship and will worsen tensions between parents and teachers amid a fraught culture war over how U.S. history, race, gender, and sexuality are discussed in the classroom.
“We must teach patriotism and that America is good, though not perfect,” Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller (R—Gainesville) said before a party-line vote last Friday that saw the bill banning the teaching of “divisive concepts” through the Senate.
“In my lifetime Georgia has advanced from a state that divided white and black citizens through strict racial segregation to a state that could host the Centennial Olympic Games and welcome people of all races, creeds, and colors,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia. “This legislation would deny Georgia’s students the fullness of that story. I want my granddaughter and all Georgia’s schoolchildren to love their country and to love the truth. You can’t love one without the other.”
Among the concepts banned is teaching that “the United States of America is fundamentally racist” or that an individual, due to their race, should “feel anguish, guilt, or any other form of psychological distress.”
Earlier last week, activists and students wanting to express their opposition to the bill in the Senate Youth and Education committee were prevented from giving public comment.