The Alabama House of Representatives has passed a bill aimed at banning the teaching of any “divisive concept” to school students. The bill, HB 312, was passed mostly along party lines 65–32, and now moves to the Alabama Senate.
HB 312 defines a “divisive concept” as including any ideology that teaches (a) a race, religion, or sex as being inherently superior to another race, religion, or sex; (b) that the United States is an inherently sexist or racist state; (c) that any individual, solely due to his/her sex or race is inherently racist, sexist, and oppressive; (d) an individual, due to his race, sex, or religion, bears responsibility for past actions by other members of the same race, sex, or religion; and (e) an individual must be asked to accept or affirm a sense of guilt solely on the basis of sex or race, etc.
“No state agency nor any public K–12 school may teach, instruct, or train any employee, contractor, staff member, teacher, student, or any other individual or group of individuals to adopt or believe a divisive concept,” the bill states.
Though the bill does not explicitly state that it is aimed at blocking the teaching of critical race theory at schools, it effectively attempt to achieves the same result.
A public institution of higher education or an employee employed in such an institution may teach about the doctrine of a divisive concept as part of a “larger course of academic instruction.” However, the institution or the employee is prohibited from attempting to compel students to “assent to the concept,” according to the bill.
Any employee, contractor, or student in Alabama should not be subject to discrimination or penalty just because they refuse to believe or support a divisive concept, according to the bill. They should also not be pressured into sharing their personal viewpoint on “widely debated and currently controversial” issues of social affairs or public policy.
Some African Americans have criticized the bill, saying that it will prevent the teaching of history. House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Ala.) called the bill a “racist piece of legislation.”
“My daughter, who’s in the chamber today, how do I explain to her the leaders of this state decided to take on an issue that’s really about erasing history, and controlling what’s taught and what’s not being taught because a certain group of people feel bad?” Daniels said.
Rep. Ed Olivier (R-Ala.), the primary sponsor of the bill, disputed the argument that HB 312 will interfere with the honest teaching of history. Lawmakers also added an amendment that was offered by a Democrat that would protect the teaching of past events in a historically accurate context.
“It is to prevent kids from being taught to hate America and hate each other,” Oliver said about the bill, while adding that it is intended to create a “nice, safe environment for kids to learn without distractions that may not be age-appropriate.”