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Georgia state Senate passes bill targeting ‘divisive concepts’ in schools

Senate Bill 377 passed Friday afternoon by 32-20, according to a tweet from the Senate Press Office. The bill — which passed along party lines with Republicans in support of the measure and Democrats against it — now moves to the Georgia state House for consideration.
Georgia is among a number of states with Republican-controlled legislatures that have sought to legislate what can be taught in schools.

The text of the bill defines nine “divisive concepts” that would not be allowed to be taught if it becomes law. Among them are the ideas that one race or ethnicity is inherently superior to another; the concept that the United States and Georgia are “fundamentally or systemically racist”; and the practice of teachers making students feel demeaned or guilty because of their races, skin colors or ethnicities. 

While the bill would ban these concepts in curriculums and training programs, the language in the bill does not “prohibit the discussion of divisive concepts, as part of a larger course of instruction, in an objective manner and without endorsement.”

According to the text of the bill, it also does not “prohibit the use of curriculum that addresses topics of slavery, racial or ethnic oppression, racial or ethnic segregation, or racial or ethnic discrimination, including topics relating to the enactment and enforcement of laws resulting in such oppression, segregation, and discrimination.”

A similar bill, House Bill 1084, known as the “Protect Students First Act,” has passed the Georgia House and has been sent to the state Senate. That measure would prohibit local school boards and administrators from discriminating “on the basis of race” by promoting or encouraging nine “divisive concepts” that are almost identical to those in SB 377.

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