In Georgia, a Republican bill attacks trans youth and obscures US history in classrooms
On February 11, the Georgian Senate passed and approved new legislation intended to clamp down on discussions of gender identity and critical race theory in K-8 private schools. The bill passed 32 to 20 along party lines. Summarized in a single bill, it is the latest in a nationwide series of GOP attacks on teachers who teach students about gender and racial inequality in schools.
Although Senate Bill 613 (inappropriately titled “Common Humanity in Private Education Act”) does not affect public schools the way it is currently drafted, other bills are in circulation that would affect public education, such as HB 1084 and SB 377. Private Schools In Georgia, it also already lacks a significant number of discrimination protections that public schools have; SB 613 would serve to intensify this problem.
Forcing an ahistorical narrative of slavery
The bill is drafted in terms aimed at ensuring that private schools “treat students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds equally and individually” to frame the new regulations as protection against racism, implicitly “racism” towards whites. But this verbiage disguises the true nature of the legislation. Towards the end, the bill explicitly prohibits private schools from teaching:
“That the advent of slavery in the territory that is now the United States constituted
the true foundation of the United States; Where
That in terms of their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations, betrayals, or breaches of the genuine founding principles of the United States, which include freedom and equality…”
In fact, slavery could not be more fundamental to the founding of the United States and the development of capitalism on the continent. Many Founding Fathers owned slaves, and the principles of “freedom and equality” were meant to apply only to whites, especially white men. The social and political rights that black people in the United States enjoy today – like the right to vote – only exist because of militant struggle. These freedoms exist not because of the founding principles of the United States, but despite them.
By loosely referring to “critical theory” of race as a regressive force without providing a definition, the bill exposes private school teachers to repression if they portray America’s heritage as having been everything. except benevolent towards black people and indigenous people.
This legislation is part of a coordinated nationwide attack and response against the anti-racism movement that has put 35 million people on the streets following the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.
“Don’t Say Gay”
SB613 also prohibits classroom discussion of gender identity, saying it leads to discrimination based on a “hierarchy of oppressors and oppressed” and is “destructive to the fabric of American society.” This language is borrowed from similar bills proposed by the GOP across the country, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The claim is that school children are not “of the age of discretion” for discussions about sexual orientation and gender, and that such discussions will lead to confusion. The underlying assumption is that all children are cisgender and heterosexual until they reach an “appropriate age” to learn more.
Rather than preventing confusion in children, these drastic measures will only make it worse. When children don’t receive a comprehensive education about gender and sexual orientation, it doesn’t make them any less gay or trans. Instead, they grow up not knowing why they don’t “fit in” with most of their peers. ‘
Trans children who go through puberty of their assigned sex suffer from depression and anxiety at significantly higher levels than their cisgender counterparts, leading to a higher likelihood of suicide attempts. If they are not taught in the first place that being transgender is a possibility, they will not know the source of their anguish and that there are answers and solutions.
Blocking all teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity does not remove the “hierarchy”, but makes things worse for gay and trans youth. They are more likely to be stereotyped as outcasts by their classmates and to experience discrimination.
The working class will not be divided
This backlash against anti-racism and the LGBT rights movement aims to divide working people against each other, but Georgian teachers are not backing down without a fight.
“After the 2020 uprising, many systemic racial issues were exposed in America,” said Jermaine Stubbs, a teacher and organizer in Atlanta. “The fear of the dismantling of the system is frightening [the lawmakers]. Children learning the true history of America would not only benefit them, but it could lead to a real dismantling of that history. [capitalist] system.”
Local educator groups are already organizing to fight classroom restrictions, such as United Campus Workers of Georgia, Gwinnett Educators for Equity and Justice, and more.
The Democratic Party’s failure to fight and end these reactionary bans reveals a critical lesson: only a broad independent movement of workers and students can defend against these vicious right-wing attacks and secure our most basic rights. . History has proven that when we fight, we can win!