Republican Classroom Gag Bill Is ‘Attack on Education,’ Says Report | Education in the United States
Republicans are launching an “attack on education” in 2022, according to the report, with lawmakers sprawling bills aimed at limiting classroom discussion of race and LGBTQ issues.
According to PEN America, a nonprofit that works to protect free expression in the United States, the number of “educational gag orders” introduced has increased by 250% compared to 2021. LGBTQ issues from the classroom.
According to PEN, 137 gag orders are defined as “state legislative actions to restrict education on topics such as race, gender, American history, and LGBTQ+ identity in kindergarten through 12-year-olds in higher education.” and has been implemented in 36 states. so far this year. In 2021, the organization has recorded 54 hush order bills in 22 states.
“There is no question that things are getting worse,” said Jeremy Young, PEN’s Senior Manager of Free Speech and Education.
“Attacks against education and educators are becoming more organized and more dangerous. Escalation is the word that defines what we see. It’s a series of increasingly bitter and dangerous attacks.”
PEN has found that gender identity is a growing focus among conservative legislators. From early January to mid-August this year, 23 bills were introduced restricting the way teachers discuss gender identity.
Attention has also focused on the punishment for discussing prohibited topics, with the proposal to impose harsh fines on schools, colleges and teachers themselves.
Young said the main reason for the legislation was the “bandwagon effect.”
Of the 137 educational gag orders bills, only a few passed. However, the backdrop of conservatives fighting over classroom censorship and the threat of being punished at some point in the future may still pose a looming threat to teachers and school administrators.
“There is some evidence that attacks on public education resonate particularly with conservative voters,” Young said.
“So now the attack on public education is not only the domain of those who have always fought public education for social reasons, cultural reasons, or in favor of private schools and homeschooling, but now this band There’s a wagon effect, and nearly every conservative lawmaker feels pressure to support, propose or vote for these bills.”
Bills introduced by conservative legislators rarely represent the demands of the public. According to her Gallup poll for 2021, more than 70% of her parents are satisfied with the education their children receive. An NPR survey earlier this year found that less than 20% of parents were dissatisfied with the way their children were taught about gender, sexuality and race.
Young said Missouri had the most vocal bills in 2022, but Florida had more success in passing legislation.
In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill to “Don’t Say You’re Gay.” The heavily criticized law restricted education about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, and states also passed laws limiting the discussion of race and racism. It signed a law in May, dictating that students must take at least a 45-minute class on “victims of communism” each November.
According to Young, the peculiarity of the law is that it prohibits vague concepts rather than specifying what teachers can say and teach and what they cannot teach. many.
For example, Florida’s “Don’t Say You’re Gay” bill reads: For students according to state standards.
Classroom instruction is undefined and, as The New York Times noted, it can mean “excluding books of LGBTQ characters and historical figures in the classroom.” No guidance was given as to what “classroom discussion” actually meant, and as The Times put it, “students with gay parents should discuss their families with the whole class.” You shouldn’t speak.” could be interpreted by the teacher.
“The ambiguity is the point,” said Young.
“The more vague the bill, the more self-censorship it will have, the more fearful teachers will be and the more fearful administrators will be.
“So this is entirely intentional. It’s a plan to put teachers and administrators on the defensive, to defuse tension and keep them away from potentially forbidden concepts.”