Louisiana Representative Files Bill That Could Make It Illegal To Teach About Racism and Sexism

“Students” by Editor B is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Legislation was filed by the Louisiana House Education Committee Chairman Ray Garofalo that could ban schools from teaching “Divisive Concepts,” like “that either the United States of America or the state of Louisiana is fundamentally, institutionally, or systemically racist or sexist.”

Garofalo disagrees with the “interpretation” that the US was founded on slavery and since then has maintained a legacy of systematic racism. “I have not seen evidence that we are fundamentally racist,” said Garofalo. “Do we have problems with racism? Absolutely, but is it systematic, is it fundamental, is it institutionalized? I have not seen evidence that that is the case.”

Racial justice advocates have criticized the bill, explaining that it could suppress actual history and black history, along with academic freedom and free speech. 

“I think this bill is problematic. I think the reading of this bill would eliminate Black history from being taught, and I think that’s a challenge,” commented Davante Lewis with The Louisiana Budget Project. “Even some on the conservative side, always quote Dr. Martin Luther King as a prime example about what is beautiful about America. But this bill in the way it’s written, would actually eliminate us even teaching about Martin Luther King, because his work was about ending racism, and this bill is about ending the teaching of racism.” 

Lewis explained that the bill “Once again it’s about American exceptionalism. But you can’t talk about the beauty of America, without talking about the dark sins of America, which has been racism and sexism.” 

When asked about the bill limiting free speech, Garofalo responded that “I would say, that if you look at the plain language of the bill, it’s not limiting free speech. In fact, I think it’s promoting free speech. I’m a strong free speech advocate, and I’m a strong believer in educational freedom. But you need to give students as much factual information as you can, with all perspectives. When you give them only one perspective, you’re indoctrinating them, and it’s not fair, it’s not right, and it sets people up for failure.”

In other words, Garofalo wants to open the floor so that teachers can simultaneously teach that America was founded on slavery, has continually upheld racist laws and practices, and is systematically racist BUT ALSO, from certain (white) viewpoints, isn’t racist. 

Garofalo commented, “We thought that if this bill had been brought in the 60s it would have been hailed as a major achievement.” Because we’re trying to teach children in a way that would have been hailed as an “achievement” in a time when segregationist policies were still rampant in America and interracial marriage wasn’t even allowed. 

Garofalo has called it an “equality bill” because apparently the title “bill to appease white guilt and hide our nation’s true past” was taken. Many legislators are filing similar bills across the country against what they are calling “critical race theory ideas.”

The bill’s language includes K-12 and higher education, however, Garofalo recognized that it may not apply to post-secondary institutions because they are typically under the jurisdiction of the Board of Regents.

Other divisive concepts in HB 564 that educators will be banned from discussing include: 

  • That one race or sex is inherently superior or inferior to another race or sex
  • That an individual should be discriminated against, favored, or receive differential treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race or sex
  • That an individual of one race or sex should be treated disrespectfully regarding that individual’s race or sex.
  • That an individual’s moral character is anyway defined, described, or determined by the individual’s race or sex.
  • That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility or is to be held accountable for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  • That any individual should feel or be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological or emotional distress on account of that individual’s race or sex.
  • That the concept of meritocracy or traits such as a strong work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race or sex to oppress another race or sex.
  • That the concepts of capitalism, free markets, or working for a private party in exchange for wages are racist and sexist or oppress a given race or sex.
  • That the concepts of racial equity and gender equity, meaning the unequal treatment of individuals because of their race, sex, or national origin, should be given preference in education and advocacy over the concepts of racial equality and gender equality, meaning the equal treatment of individuals regardless of their race, sex, or national origin.
  • Any form of race or sex scapegoating or race or sex stereotyping. 


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