Arizona GOP Poised To Ban Social Justice Classes, Events, And Lectures In Public Schools

Another day, another assault on the First Amendment from the “freedom-loving” Republican Party.

In Arizona, a state facing an unprecedented teacher shortage, the Republican-led State House has introduced a bill to ban social justice courses, lectures and events from public schools, including state universities.

HB 2120, introduced by Reps. Bob Thorpe and Mark Finchem, seeks to:

15-112.  Prohibited courses, classes, events and activities; enforcement; exceptions

   A.  A school district or charter school in this state shall not include in its program of instruction any courses, or classes, EVENTS OR ACTIVITIES that include DO any of the following:

  1.  Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
  2.  Promote DIVISION, resentment OR SOCIAL JUSTICE toward a race, GENDER, RELIGION, POLITICAL AFFILIATION, SOCIAL CLASS or OTHER class of people.
  3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
  4. Advocate ethnic solidarity OR ISOLATION BASED ON ETHNICITY, RACE, RELIGION, GENDER OR SOCIAL CLASS instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

And if the schools don’t comply with the law (intentionally or unintentionally)? They lose 10 percent of their already depleted funds:

B. … If the state board of education or the superintendent of public instruction determines that the school district or charter school has failed to comply with subsection A OF THIS SECTION within sixty days after a notice has been issued pursuant to this subsection, the state board of education or the superintendent of public instruction may direct the department of education to withhold up to ten per cent PERCENT of the monthly apportionment of state aid that would otherwise be due the school district or charter school.

In other words: don’t teach anything that helps build up tolerance and acceptance of any repressed minority group or you will be punished with the money your districts so desperately need.

When it comes to the state university system (institutions of higher learning), the legislation almost mirrors that for public k-12 schooling:

A UNIVERSITY UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE ARIZONA BOARD OF REGENTS OR A COMMUNITY COLLEGE UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF A COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT SHALL NOT INCLUDE IN ITS PROGRAM OF INSTRUCTION ANY COURSES, CLASSES, EVENTS OR ACTIVITIES THAT DO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  1. PROMOTE THE OVERTHROW OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.
  2. PROMOTE DIVISION, RESENTMENT OR SOCIAL JUSTICE TOWARD A RACE, GENDER, RELIGION, POLITICAL AFFILIATION, SOCIAL CLASS OR OTHER CLASS OF PEOPLE.
  3. ARE DESIGNED PRIMARILY FOR STUDENTS OF A PARTICULAR ETHNIC GROUP.
  4. ADVOCATE SOLIDARITY OR ISOLATION BASED ON ETHNICITY, RACE, RELIGION, GENDER OR SOCIAL CLASS INSTEAD OF THE TREATMENT OF STUDENTS AS INDIVIDUALS.
  5. VIOLATE STATE OR FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS.
  6. NEGATIVELY TARGET SPECIFIC NATIONALITIES OR COUNTRIES.

Like K-12 institutions, state colleges and universities would be stripped of 10 percent of their state funding if found to be intentionally or unintentionally in violation.

The problem with this law is clear: it’s too broadly written, it stifles education, and it deprives students of their ability to learn about different ideologies and current events in today’s America. On the surface, it sounds good – no public school should be able to promote violence, resentment or hatred towards the United States government or any group of people. However, once we start telling people they can’t advocate for the social justice of anyone, no matter who it is being oppressed, we become complacent with discrimination and oppression of peoples all across the globe.

Does this mean professors wouldn’t be able to lecture or promote the human rights of those living in Israeli-Palestinian territory? Does it mean they cannot promote the ‘never forget’ mantra of Nazi Germany atrocities because it’s promoting “social justice” for Jews, Poles, the disabled, Gay and Romani people?

The list – and the subsequent debate – could go on and on.

This Orwellian, revisionist history is dangerous and it’s un-American. It stifles freedom of speech – even speech we may not agree with – and shields students from different opinions and outlooks on life. Students paying thousands of dollars to attend a state university should not have their right to speak and learn freely striped of them by their government.

The snowflake Republicans are at it again, and this time they’re the ones who need a safe space from the big, bad social justice warriors.


Featured image via KTAR News