PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Opponents to a bill that would govern how Rhode Island public schools teach topics like race and sex made themselves heard Monday before the House Committee on Education.
West Warwick Republican Rep. Patricia Morgan is the lone sponsor of her legislation, which she argues is all about protecting children and their civil rights.
“Each student deserves the best education we can offer,” Morgan said while introducing her bill to the committee.
If enacted, Morgan’s bill would prevent teachers from using terms such as “supremacy,” “racial guilt” and “racial fragility” in the classroom, among other slurs, phrases and terms connected to race.
She argues that the state’s education curriculum has been “radicalized,” and that students should be taught “factual historical events” and “not just Black history.”
“I don’t want children to be discriminated against,” Morgan said.
Morgan’s bill wouldn’t just place restrictions on race-related curriculum. It would also prohibit sex education teachers from exploring the topics of sexual preference, gender dysphoria and sexual lifestyles.
Morgan’s bill would also mandate that educators address students using their “common names and pronouns associated with their biological gender,” unless a parent or guardian gives consent otherwise.
Critics came out in full force to oppose Morgan’s bill, including one student who called it “a shameful silencing” of marginalized people.
Rep. Joe McNamara, chairman of the Committee on Education, gave Morgan an opportunity to withdraw the bill, which he claims violates the anti-bullying provision of the Safe Schools Act.
“If this bill was enacted it would be an institutional bullying legislation,” McNamara said.
“I’m not ratifying bullying this bill,” she argued.
A spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Education tells 12 News it opposes the bill. The Rhode Island ACLU and RI Kids Count also sent representatives to Monday’s hearing to voice their opposition to it.
Morgan’s bill was held for further study.