Tennesee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill on Tuesday banning educators from teaching critical race theory in state schools.
The bill went through several rounds of amendments before being passed onto the governor but eventually garnered enough support from GOP legislators in both the state House and the state Senate. Lee also expressed his support for the bill which he said highlights “the exceptionalism of our nation” instead of the topics that “inherently divide” it.
“We need to make sure that our kids recognize that this country is moving toward a more perfect union, that we should teach the exceptionalism of our nation and how people can live together and work together to make a greater nation, and to not teach things that inherently divide or pit either Americans against Americans or people groups against people groups,” the Republican governor said.
Upon its implementation on July 1, Tennessee teachers will not be allowed to teach that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously.” “Impartial” discussions about difficult and controversial topics are still permitted but schools teaching racism will risk losing funding from the state.
Tennesse joins a multitude of states that have taken action to prevent institutionalized racism from being taught in public schools. Idaho was the first state to pass a law banning educators from teaching that “individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin” at the beginning of May.
Oklahoma followed soon after. Now, nearly a dozen states are working on passing legislation that stops racism from being incorporated into taxpayer-funded curriculum. Some states are specifically banning anti-American content such as the 1619 Project from while others are taking a hardline approach against guilting children for the color of their skin.