At the end of last week, the Georgia state Senate passed the “Protect Students First Act,” House Bill (HB) 1084, which would essentially constrain discussions about race in schools. Next, the bill will head to the state House and if it passes that chamber, then up to the GOP Governor Brian Kemp, where it will most likely be signed into law.
The Georgia Senate Press Office tweeted that “HB 1084 would prohibit schools and local school systems from advocating divisive concepts and ensure that curricula and training programs encourage students and employees to practice tolerance and respect and not judge others based on race.”
Provisions of the bill “would also prohibit the discussion of certain concepts such as ‘one race is inherently superior to another race’ or ‘the United States of America is fundamentally racist.’”
While language in the bill does not explicitly refer to or call out Critical Race Theory, critics say this is merely another attempt by Republicans to ban the topic, despite the fact that “Critical Race Theory is not currently taught in Georgia’s K-12 public schools.”
Butch Miller, the Republican Senate President Pro Tempore for Georgia said, “CRT is wrong, it’s destructive and it views American history through a racial lens…It’s a filter that focuses on victimhood, not triumph, and we have triumphed in this country. It is driven by identity politics; it promotes racial identity over American identity and is a recipe for chaos and division. We don’t defeat racism with racism.”
The bill’s banned items can also be found listed out in one of former President Trump’s 2020 executive orders, which has now since been repealed. The Center for Renewing America, which is a “think tank led by former Trump administration officials,” has backed several bills that utilize virtually identical language to HB 1084, which have recently been proposed in more than a dozen states, as Republican controlled state legislatures across the country continue to try and codify into law, “what [exactly] can be taught in schools.”
Democratic State Senator Kim Jackson stated, “We’re going to watch this overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male majority decide what is and isn’t OK…It’s going to be used to punish teachers and punish schools simply because they dare to tell the truth, the truth that there are today some fundamental inequalities in our system.”
Furthermore, “Georgia Republicans added a last-minute measure to the legislation that allows the state’s high school athletics governing body to ban transgender girls from competing against other girls in public school sports,” and so the bill is also paving the way to further target the rights of transgender students.
Democratic representative Matthew Wilson was quoted in the local press saying, “It sets us up not only to be on the wrong side of history and morality, but on the wrong end of litigation.”