Americans are divided about the role of public schools in teaching racism and sexuality in K-12 classrooms and have been for decades. Numerous states responded to a renewed push to curtail any discussion related to human sexuality or America’s history of racism.
Forty-two states introduced bills or have taken other steps to limit how teachers can discuss Black history, critical race theory, and LGBTQ topics since January 2021, according to April 12, 2022, Education Week analysis. These bans and restrictions were imposed either through legislation or means in 17 states. Republicans across the United States plan to use this deeply divided topic as a priority on the 2022 campaign trail.
While most of the country’s legislative bodies have pushed to quash classrooms of students from hearing anything about these so-called divisive topics, the public’s point of view reflects a larger divide, according to a recent poll from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Nearly a third, 31%, of respondees feel there is not enough focus on sexual identity whereas 23% think there is too much discussion. The number of those who think that there should be more discussion on race should be in classrooms is similar, 34%. Twenty-seven percent feel their local schools focus too much on racism.
The survey found that American opinions differed when asked about who should have sway over the school curriculum. Republicans think parents have too little influence, whereas Democrats think teachers have too little over their classrooms’ discussion.
Interestingly, only 14% who answered questions about whether or not teachers should discuss racism and sexuality in America’s classrooms pay close attention to information about their local school board — 26% of them were parents of K-12 children.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Education Week: Map: Where Critical Race Theory Is Under Attack; by Sarah Schwartz
AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research: No Public Consensus on How Schools Should Discuss Sexuality and Racism
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