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Public school gives parents option to pull kids out of Black History Month lessons

Public school gives parents option to pull kids out of Black History Month lessons
Part of permission slip sent home with studentsPhoto: screenshot

A rural Indiana public elementary school is backtracking after a photo of a permission slip allowing parents to opt their children out of Black History Month lessons went viral. The letter, sent by Sprunica Elementary School’s school counselor, also touts the benefits of diversity lessons.

But the counselor’s confusion may be understandable as Republican state legislators attempt to micromanage acceptable education curriculum and give parents the right to approve of resources used in the classroom and larger leeway to pull their child out of lessons they find objectionable.

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The GOP effort has been condemned as racist and anti-LGBTQ by civil rights groups and teachers.

“Our district supports teaching about the facts in our history including historical injustices. We are and will continue to be committed to having compassion for all and supporting an education community that will allow all students, staff, families and community members the opportunity to feel welcome,” Brown County Schools Superintendent Emily Tracy told local news after the photo went viral. “We do not allow students and parents to opt out of required curriculum, including instruction on social studies and histories. Any decision related to parental consent and curriculum determinations are made in accordance with the law.”

“We are looking into the matter to determine the justification for the language included in the letter. We will respond to any parental concerns on an individualized basis.”

But Indiana law may be changing and the back-and-forth changes over what would be included and the various regulations could be confusing for school employees struggling to know what triggers the requirements. Current law already allows for some opt-out situations.

The latest version of the proposed legislation would ban any “divisive concepts” based on sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color and national origin that teach one group is inherently superior or inferior to another, one group should be treated adversely or preferentially, or that individuals, by virtue of their traits, are inherently responsible for the past actions of others who share their traits.

Part of the bill would prevent teaching, “that any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or political affiliation.”

Students could potentially be discomforted if they found out the Ku Klux Klan once hosted its largest gathering in history in Indiana .

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