FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2021
Lindsay Kee, ACLU-TN, (615) 320-7142
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Bill Lee has signed a bill into law that would censor academic discussions about American history, race, and gender in Tennessee public-school classrooms.
SB 623 outlines a series of 14 “concepts” that cannot be taught in the classroom, including that “this state or the United States is fundamentally… racist or sexist.” The bill also requires “impartial” instruction on our nation’s history of racial oppression. If teachers violate this vague requirement, intentionally or not, they risk the state withholding funding to their schools.
Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director had this reaction:
“We are very troubled by Governor Lee’s censorship of discussions of race in the classroom. With the stroke of a pen, the governor has silenced constructive dialogue that would educate individuals on the discrimination and systemic barriers that people of color still face in this country – including long-term inequalities in educational outcomes, incarceration rates, economic advancement and health outcomes – as well as ways we can move forward together. The governor appears to have amnesia about his own words: ‘history without understanding is quickly forgotten.’ While the governor may seek to whitewash history by signing this bill, we will not only remember the painful legacy our state is built on, but his lack of leadership today.”