Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R) deemed critical race theory and anti-racism programs taught in schools “discriminatory,” saying they violate federal and state law.
In an opinion issued Thursday, Knudsen said the use of critical race theory “discriminates on the basis of race, color, or national origin.”
He held that certain instances — like using race when administering academic programs or forcing an individual to admit privilege — are illegal.
However, he said that his opinion is not meant to restrict activities under the First Amendment.
“There are many bad ideas, such as the Communist Manifesto, and fraudulent curriculums, like the 1619 Project, that do not violate civil rights laws when taught in Montana schools,” Knudsen said in a statement. “However, much of the training and programming done in the name of ‘antiracism’ perpetuates and glorifies racial stereotypes and division in a way that violates the law
Knudsen encouraged parents to file complaints against schools if they feel their students are being discriminated against.
The move comes as GOP-led states decry critical race theory and seek to remove references to it from education. The decades-old theory holds that racism has been prevalent in America since the nation’s founding and is still prevalent in many aspects of American life.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill on Tuesday that bans critical race theory from being taught in schools. Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have also taken similar measures.
Knudsen issued his opinion after Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen requested him to look into the matter.
In a statement Thursday, Arntzen said she is “completely supportive of students learning multiple viewpoints of our history to encourage critical thinking,” according to The Associated Press.
However, she said critical race theory “distorts our shared history and too often is used to demean and belittle students based on the color of their skin through segregation, stereotyping, and scapegoating.”