A lengthy discussion ensued Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee on HB4011, which would establish the Anti-Stereotyping Act.
The bill affects state public schools and public charter schools and provides that training, instructional, or curricula materials be displayed on the public school, county board, or public charter school website provided that reproduction does not infringe copyrights.
The bill provides that county boards, public schools, public charter schools, and their employees shall not, in the course or scope of employment, promote, embrace, or endorse stereotypes.
It ensures that the county board, public school, or charter school does not require or compel a student, teacher, administrator, or other employee to affirm, adopt, or adhere to any certain beliefs or concepts and preserves free-speech protections.
The bill’s provisions center around eight factors: nondiscrimination, diversity, equity, inclusion, race, ethnicity, sex, or bias, or any combination of those concepts with other concepts.
Delegate Lisa Zukoff of Marshall County asked how someone would measure “requires or compels.” Counsel replied that it is not defined in the bill.
Delegate Mark Zatazelo of Hancock County asked whether history could be taught or whether there’s anything that says it must be taught a certain way.
Counsel responded that it is not addressed but noted there are ways that one could teach history that would violate this bill.
Delegate Chad Lovejoy of Cabell County asked Committee Counsel whether the bill would prohibit the questioning of the “moral character” of Nazis or slaveowners. Counsel responded that drawing conclusions about history may conflict with the bill.
Delegate Lovejoy made several points about the amount of work the bill placed upon school boards for reviewing all training materials for students and all materials for teacher training for the eight factors or combination thereof that might be present in the materials. The bill does not provide any guidance or direction for the training analysis, but it does require that all instructional materials and curricula, including textbooks, be reviewed.
Todd Gaziano, representing the Pacific Legal Foundation, was called upon to testify about the bill. He said the bill is consistent with the enumerated factors in federal law. He explained by saying a teacher can condemn Nazis because they are not a whole race but cannot say “all whites” have moral failings or are oppressors.
He expressed support for the bill, saying, “No state I know of has such a narrowly tailored bill.”
In response to Mr. Gaziano, Delegate Tom Fast of Fayette County noted that many historical documents have references to the Bible and are based upon Christian faith.
“Would that be prohibited?” asked Fast.
Mr. Gaziano responded that historical influences would have no effect on what a teacher could teach.
After a brief discussion of who funds the Pacific Legal Foundation, the committee adjourned for the 5 p.m floor session and will continue the discussion Friday.
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