Idaho lawmakers have advanced a bill that would prohibit public schools, including public universities, from teaching that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior,” which, according to the bill, is often found in “critical race theory.”
It also prohibits teachings arguing that “individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.”
Critical race theory and teachings like it “exacerbate and inflame divisions on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or other criteria in ways contrary to the unity of the nation and the well-being of the state of Idaho and its citizens,” the bill reads. Proponents have argued that students are being indoctrinated.
Critical race theory has become politicized in recent months, with proponents arguing the area of study is based on Marxism and a threat to the American way of life. But the study, according to scholars, explores the ways in which a history of inequality and racism in the US have continued to impact American society today.
CNN reached out to Idaho state Rep. Julianne Young and Sen. Carl Crabtree, both sponsors of the bill, for comment, but did not receive a response.
“The passage of HB 377 and the accompanying insinuations about Idaho teachers are very disappointing,” said Layne McInelly, president of the Idaho Education Association, in a statement. “This is a ‘monster under the bed’ problem brought about by a false and misleading narrative that some legislators have willfully conflated. They aim to diminish the public’s trust in our teachers and schools, just to come back next year and push to privatize education.”
Meanwhile, Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin announced a task force earlier this month, aiming to “examine indoctrination in Idaho education and to protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism, and Marxism.”
Across the country, public school entities are considering the inclusion of aspects of race education in school curriculums. In March, after years of debate, California approved an optional ethnic studies model curriculum for districts to employ if they so choose.
“By affirming the identities and contributions of marginalized groups in our society, ethnic studies helps students see themselves and each other as part of the narrative of the United States,” a draft of the California curriculum reads. “Importantly, this helps students see themselves as active agents in the interethnic bridge-building process we call American life.”
And yet, the area of study has been weaponized by some Republican lawmakers. In September, former President Donald Trump called critical race theory “divisive, anti-American propaganda,” language similar to that found in HB 377.
CNN’s Faith Karimi contributed to this report.