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Tennessee governor signs measure banning critical race theory instruction

Tennessee governor signs measure banning critical race theory instruction
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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) on Monday signed a measure into law that bans critical race theory from being taught in schools.  

The new legislation, which goes into effect on July 1, doesn’t allow state educators to teach that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously.”

Democratic lawmakers opposed the new law, saying that teachers will be fearful of teaching their students how racism shaped the current state of the country.  

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A school found to be in violation of the law could have its funding withheld.

"With the stroke of a pen, the governor has silenced constructive dialogue that would educate individuals on the discrimination and systemic barriers that people of color still face in this country — including long-term inequalities in educational outcomes, incarceration rates, economic advancement and health outcomes — as well as ways we can move forward together," the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee said in a statement to local media.

Lee told reporters Monday that he doesn't want kids to learn about things that “inherently divide” people but about how people of different races can live together, The Associated Press reported.

“We need to make sure that our kids recognize that this country is moving toward a more perfect union, that we should teach the exceptionalism of our nation and how people can live together and work together to make a greater nation, and to not teach things that inherently divide or pit either Americans against Americans or people groups against people groups,” he said. 

The AP reported that "impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history" is still permitted and that teachers are allowed to speak freely when discussing a particular historic figure or group or answering a student's question.

Tennessee joins other GOP-led states, including Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma, that have banned critical race theory in their schools.

Lee also signed into law legislation that allows parents to review their children’s sex education courses, giving them the right to opt the child out of learning.