South Dakota Governor Signs Legislation Banning Critical Race Theory, Race-Based Training Because Of ‘Discomfort’
Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed legislation on Monday (March 21) that bans the state’s public universities from using training and orientation materials that could cause racially based “discomfort.”
Noem says state House Bill 1012 "prohibits colleges from requiring students and teachers to attend training or orientations based on Critical Race Theory." Despite this, the actual text of the bill makes no mention of Critical Race Theory.
“No student or teacher should have to endorse Critical Race Theory in order to attend, graduate from, or teach at our public universities,” Noem said in a statement, according to The Hill. “College should remain a place where freedom of thought and expression are encouraged, not stifled by political agendas.”
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The legislation lists seven “divisive concepts” prohibited from being a mandatory part of training for college students or faculty members. It doesn’t ban teaching that racism is systemic in societal institutions, which CRT is based off of.
ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager Jett Jonelis says the measure goes against the First Amendment rights of educators and “creates more questions than answers.”
“It opens the door for a wide range of interpretations that could be used to chill free speech and academic freedom, discouraging open and honest discussions about systemic racism in classrooms and in higher education communities,” Jonelis said, according to The Hill. “House Bill 1012 passed shows the very need for the types of discussion our government is trying to prohibit.”