Randy Yohe Published

Public Hearing Comments Call For Rejection Of ‘Anti-Racism’ Act

Kitty Dooley.jpg

How do we teach – or not teach – our children about race, ethnicity or sex? At a public hearing in the House Chamber, West Virginia lawmakers heard the public’s views on the so-called ‘anti- racism’ act.

At the meeting 24 people spoke out against Senate Bill 498, while four people supported the hot button bill. The proposal forbids school instruction that one race, ethnic group or sex is superior to another.

Howard Swint, a parent and former American history teacher, argued the bill reverses any progress in promoting diversity.

“I think this is just another wave of southern, white-privileged bigotry going through the government,” Swint said. “The kind of thing that put the Stonewall Jackson statue on our grounds 100 years ago.”

West Virginia attorney Kitty Dooley said there are numerous ways to support anti-racism, but she also said this bill would chill educators from teaching history and give lawyers a field day.

‘You’re giving me a cause of action for every discussion of the enslaved African-American,” Dooley said. “A cause of action for confderates glorification, of lynching, of domestic terrorism following reconstruction, of Dred Scott, of Plessy vs. Ferguson.”

Among the few supporting the bill, Barry Holstein said passage would offer teachers personal protection along with lesson plan freedom.

“Contrary to what you’ve heard, this bill does not prohibit the education and debate of the way race or sex has impacted history or current events, including the causes,” Holstein said.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, said the bill does not prohibit controversial discussion, does not call for lawsuits, only a reporting mechanism and will not have a chilling effect on teachers.

“Let’s just say this, if you’re teaching history and you are teaching facts, you have nothing to worry about,” Rucker said.

The anti-racism bill passed the Senate 21-12 and is now in the House Education Committee.