Taking a Stand Against Divisive Concepts Laws
May 01, 2023
Appears in May 2023: School Administrator.
Seventeen states have passed divisive concepts laws. Designed to limit classroom and workplace discussion of race, gender, equity and discrimination, they can entitle parents to file complaints if they think a teacher’s instruction violates the law. The threat of such complaints is meant to silence courageous teaching about race and its legacy in U.S. history.
Superintendents face challenges in confronting these laws and responding to parents’ complaints. However, all superintendents have an opportunity and a responsibility to stand up for truth rather than cave to attempts to whitewash history and ban books and other media that present important social and political issues.
Divisive concepts laws are educational censorship of complex issues and uncomfortable truths permeating our history and culture, including genocidal policies toward Native Americans, discriminatory actions toward marginalized groups and other injustices. At their worst, instead of meeting their purported goal of preventing ideological indoctrination, these laws actually promote indoctrination by suppressing instruction about racism and injustice and perpetuating viewpoints that ignore or distort the truth.