Alabama Legislators Propose Bill to Ban the Teaching of ‘Divisive Concepts’

By Chase Smith
Chase Smith
Chase Smith
Chase is an award-winning journalist. He covers Tennessee and other parts of the Southeast for The Epoch Times.
January 27, 2023Updated: January 27, 2023

Alabama legislators have prefiled a bill that would ban the teaching of subjects considered to be divisive in public schools.

House Bill 7 (pdf) would prohibit public entities such as state agencies, local boards of education, and public institutions of higher education from promoting or endorsing, or requiring affirmation of, certain “divisive concepts relating to race, sex or religion.”

“The bill would prohibit certain public entities from conditioning enrollment or attendance in certain classes or trainings on the basis of race or color,” the bill’s text reads. “This bill would also authorize certain public entities to discipline or terminate employees or contractors who violate this act.”

Defining ‘Divisive Concepts’

The text of the bill defines “divisive concepts” in a broad range from gender, race, and religion.

This includes any concept that promotes:

  • A particular race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin being inherently superior or inferior to another.
  • That any individual should be discriminated against or mistreated based on their race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.
  • That the moral character of a person is determined by their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.
  • That by virtue of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, the person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive whether consciously or subconsciously.
  • That any of the aforementioned groups are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same group.
  • That fault or blame should be placed upon a person based on the aforementioned attributes.
  • That any individual should be asked to accept, acknowledge, affirm, or assent to a sense of guilt, complicity, or need to apologize solely on the basis of the aforementioned attributes.

Any violation in the act could legally lead to the employee or contractor being disciplined or terminated.

Application in Education

Local boards of education or public colleges and universities may not direct a student, employee, or contractor adhere to any divisive concept, require them to attend or participate in trainings that promote the divisive concepts, share their personal point of views on the concepts, participate in lobbying for legislation at any government level, or penalize anyone on the basis of their refusal to support or adhere to the divisive concepts.

Additionally, enrollment may not be conditioned on race or color, and the education authorities are not allowed to authorize, expend or apply for or accept funding that promotes the concepts.

Employees, contractors, and educational authorities are not prohibited from responding to questions raised during conversation or work that pertain to divisive concepts, teaching the concepts in an “objective manner and without endorsement.”

It also would not prohibit required collection or reporting of demographic information by public institutions of higher education or prohibit the teaching of topics in a “historically accurate context.”

Further, the act notes it would not prevent a state agency from promoting diversity or inclusion if the “efforts are consistent with the requirements” of the act.

critical race theory protest
Opponents of critical race theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters in Ashburn, Va., on June 22, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

It would also not be construed to inhibit or violate First Amendment rights or undermine the duty of education entities to protect academic freedom, intellectual diversity, and free expression.

A bill proposed in the Alabama House last year was filed with similar language and replaced earlier bills that related specifically to critical race theory.

The Epoch Times has contacted the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Ed Oliver, for comment.

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