You may have heard some of the testimony offered both in support of against a bill being introduced in the Indiana Senate that could limit what teachers can teach your child about race and history, and that would discourage school libraries from making books some people consider inappropriate available. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is watching the progress of those bills, with concerns about censorship.
“We always get our antenna up when government proposes to tell people what they can and cannot talk about,” said Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana, in a Friday discussion of what they are watching in this year’s legislative session.
The bill that could limit the teaching specifically of Critical Race Theory, and its components, is being discussed in the Senate Education Committee. Seven hours of testimony was heard Wednesday.
Some Democratic lawmakers have said they oppose the bill because they say Critical Race Theory is not being taught in Indiana schools. The ACLU opposes the bill because it puts limits on what teachers and students can talk about in the classroom.
“Any time the government casts its shadow it sends a chilling effect, intimidates people, teachers, administrators and burdens them with interpreting what they can and cannot say, it’s not a good thing for our democracy,” said Henegar.
“The bills being introduced here are clearly being written in response to the nation-wide trend to restrict students rights to learn and to talk about these issues,” said ACLU Indiana Advocacy Director Katie Blair. “These types of bills censor educators and students…and prevent students from having an open and accurate dialogue about American history.”
Neither Blair nor Henegar discussed what they may do if the bill were to pass and become law.
Republicans have expressed concern that certain teachings are inaccurate and present a view of American history where race is overemphasized, and that America is essentially built on racist principles.
Blair and Henegar said they are also watching for any bills that might ban abortions, especially since the Mississippi ban is being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Blair said taxpayers should know if one of their representatives is working on such a bill, and that several have passed, been signed into law, and rendered null and void by courts.
“Their legislators, much like every years, are wasting taxpayer dollars on unconstitutional legislation,” said Blair.
She said bills that might curtail protestor rights, bills that try to insert God into public schools are also on their radar.