Texas GOP passes bill that bans teachers from speaking on ‘white supremacy’

“You can talk about race in the classroom, but you can’t talk about privilege or white supremacy," said state Rep. James Talarico, a Democrat and vocal critic of the bill

Texas Republicans have passed a bill to prevent children from learning about racism.

The House bill passed by Republicans on Tuesday prohibits teachers in the state’s public schools from speaking on current news events, white supremacy and racism, but does not mention the word “ban.” It passed 79-65, per Huff Post.

“The bill is written in kind of a clever way,” said state Rep. James Talarico, a Democrat and vocal critic of the bill. “You can talk about race in the classroom, but you can’t talk about privilege or white supremacy. It doesn’t outright ban talking about race, but the idea is to put in landmines so any conversation about race in the classroom would be impossible.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott thegrio.com
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott (Credit: Twitter )

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According to the bill, social studies and civics teachers are not to teach “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” or the idea 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.”

Those teachers also “may not be compelled to discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs.”

Rep. Richard Raymond was the only Democrat to support the bill and Rep. Lyle Larson was the only Republican to oppose it. The nationwide controversy over “critical race theory” impacted the bill.

According to Talarico, the bill’s agenda has nothing to do with educating children. He claimed Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is eager to sign it in hopes of catering to conservatives in the state. It is rumored he will run for president in 2024.

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“It’s a strange dynamic we’re seeing: Florida and Texas are trying to outcompete each other to see who can pass the most far-right Neanderthal legislation,” Talarico said. “The focus is not children. The focus is on scoring points with old, white voters who see the country slipping away from them demographically.”

The representative also challenged the bill’s author, Republican state Rep. Steve Toth, at this week’s Texas House debate on Tuesday morning to amend the bill and make it more transparent about race in America.

“Would you be open to an amendment requiring that we teach the history of white supremacy and teach students that it’s morally wrong?” asked Talarico.

“No,” said Toth. “I’m not.”

Toth amended the bill to exclude teachings of The 1619 Project, the award winning The New York Times Magazine project that exposes how racism shaped the country and still plagues America today. Talarico pressed Toth again.

“Rep. Toth, your lengthy bill about civics makes no effort to teach the history of racism or white supremacy and its impact on the founding of our country —politically, socially, economically,” Talarico said. “The only thing you’re doing is preventing us from talking about race in a way that makes you uncomfortable.”

“This amendment is about making sure that history is taught and not a journalistic creative story that someone came up with,” said Toth about The 1619 Project.

The bill also exempts teachers from taking cultural proficiency and equity training if it makes them feel, “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” due to their gender or race.

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