Groups Call on Stitt to Veto Bill Banning Schools from Teaching Certain Topics about Race, Gender

May 3, 2021
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OKLAHOMA CITY —There has been more fallout from a bill headed to Gov. Kevin Stitt's desk that would ban certain topics about race and gender from being taught in schools.

"The worst thing we can do is set a standard that if anything is uncomfortable or doesn't align with a certain worldview that it's just going to be erased and censored," said Bailey Perkins, with the Oklahoma Women's Coalition.

The coalition is one of the groups calling on Oklahomans to contact Stitt's office about House Bill 1775. The bill would ban schools from teaching certain topics about race and sex as well as ban colleges from requiring sexual diversity training.

Perkins said the bill is dangerous and unnecessary.

"When you look at Oklahoma's history, it's had a dark past that has to be told in order to understand the present," Perkins said. "The concern is that these core pieces of our history won't be told to students and we're creating a systemic barrier for having those conversations that could lead to reconciliation and enlightenment to a lot of students."

State Rep. Kevin West defended the bill last week, saying it doesn't mean uncomfortable topics can't be taught. He said House Bill 1775 would just set boundaries.

"This bill says that we're not going to teach people because of their race or their sex they are inherently evil for something they had nothing to do with," West said.

But Perkins told KOCO 5 that the bill's wording leaves too much room for interpretation. Click here to read House Bill 1775 in its entirety.

"Some school districts may interpret it as 'We can't talk about race and gender at all because of the way the bill is worded.' And some may have the lens of 'Well, we can talk about issues in this way,'" Perkins said.

Oklahoma Public Schools officials also encouraged Stitt to veto the bill. Superintendent Sean McDaniel released the following statement:

"HB 1775 appears to be a solution looking for a problem which does not exist. OKCPS follows the guidance of OSDE, teaching the state-determined Oklahoma Academic Standards using state-approved curriculum resources. We believe it is important that we continue to learn both about and from our past in order to build an enlightened and resilient future.

"As we do this, OKCPS will continue to provide a welcoming and inclusive learning and work environment. We stand firmly by our Vision for Equity Board Policy and remain 'committed to creating, building, and sustaining an environment that embraces racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity and that provides equitable access to a high standard of educational success for all students with the intention of closing achievement gaps, particularly for student groups with the greatest academic needs in the district.'

"We have teachers across the district who we trust to make decisions -- sometimes life and death decisions -- on behalf of our students each and every day. Surely we can continue to trust our educators to guide these difficult yet necessary conversations with our students inside of their classrooms.

"OKCPS strongly encourages Governor Stitt to veto HB 1775."

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