On Monday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill into law to limit how race is allowed to be discussed in classrooms, akin to bills in other states that ban critical race theory, which the state’s bill names explicitly.
Despite mentioning the concept, the main text of the legislation does not define what the theory means in the context of the state’s schools.
“Contrary to what some critics may claim, this bill in no way, in no shape and in no form prohibits the teaching of history,” said GOP Gov. Reeves in a video posted to social media. “Any claim that this bill will somehow stop Mississippi kids from learning about American history is just flat-out wrong.”
The title of Senate Bill 2113 says the piece would ban “critical race theory” and adds that no school, community college or university would be allowed to teach that any “sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”
In a released statement, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi said that laws instituted to oppose critical race theory “are thinly veiled attempts to silence discussions of race and gender amongst students and educators.”
Still, the Republican-controlled House voted 75-43 earlier in March to put the bill through following a six-hour debate in which multiple black lawmakers gave their opposition. They argued that the law could crush honest discussion about the harmful effects of racism because parents would be allowed to complain if history lessons make white children uncomfortable.
When the bill passed the Republican-dominated state Senate in January, every black senator withheld their vote and walked out in protest.
Across the country, Republicans have been pushing the principle that critical race theory is harmful as many Republican-led states have banned or stunted the teaching of the theory or like concepts through laws or administrative directives.
Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright did say that critical race theory is not instructed in the state’s schools, although the University of Mississippi law school offers an elective course on the subject.
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