W.V. lawmakers counter Biden endorsement of Critical Race Theory with new legislation
West Virginia lawmakers proposed legislation to ban divisive academic frameworks from the state’s education ecosystem.
The bill would prohibit “state funding for state agencies who promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating.”
West Virginia lawmakers introduced a bill to ban divisive academic frameworks from the state’s education ecosystem.
House Bill 2595 — introduced by Delegates Riley Keaton, Josh Holstein, Trenton Barnhart, and Johnnie Wamsley — would ban “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the workforce, and not to allow grant funds to be used for these purposes.” In addition, “state contractors will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees.”
The legislation provides a comprehensive list of definitions for the term “divisive concepts.” Among other possibilities, a divisive concept could teach that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist,” “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” and “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
The bill would bar the State Board of Education from promoting “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in schools” and disallows schools from using a curriculum that promotes division.
Likewise, the bill would prohibit “state funding for state agencies who promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating” upon passage.
Delegate Holstein told Campus Reform in a phone interview that though academic progressivism and cancel culture “may not be the number-one issue in West Virginia right now,” the bill is intended to prevent “any of those instances happening in the future of our state.”
Holstein and the other delegates drew inspiration from former President Donald Trump’s 1776 Commission. In addition to fighting critical race theory training in the university system, the bill would address entities that contract with the state of West Virginia.
“A lot of people are subjugated to these trainings, and then they come out and they feel like less of a person,” he explained. “This is a great step in the right direction," he added.
Pending the bill’s ability to move through three legislative committees and the House floor, Holstein expects it to be approved by both chambers of the legislature.
However, the bill has not come without opposition.
“The ACLU of West Virginia has pushed back and essentially deemed it a racist bill, saying that we are trying to limit teaching of the Civil Rights movement,” said Holstein. “That’s a complete falsehood.”
Holstein added that teachers’ unions in West Virginia have “come out strongly against” the legislation as well.
Keaton told Campus Reform that House Bill 2595 “prohibits the new kind of racial and sex-based stereotyping about Americans — and America herself — that has become far too prevalent. No person and no nation should be judged on skin color or the skin color of its Founders.”
“In no way, shape, form, or fashion does the bill restrict teaching of accurate history,” he explained. “Examples like the Civil Rights movement *prove* that we are capable of change — we are not a rotten-to-the-core, irreparably racist nation. We can change and improve. A ‘fundamentally racist’ nation couldn’t do that.”
West Virginia University Executive Director of Communications April Kaull told Campus Reform that it would be premature to speculate upon its effects on the university.
Trump’s executive order “On Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” which was proposed in the final months of his administration, sought to defund institutions that promote ideas “designed to divide us and to prevent us from uniting as one people in pursuit of one common destiny for our great country.”
As Campus Reform reported, many universities denounced the executive order and attempted to modify or cancel trainings that could be interpreted as divisive.
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden reversed Trump's ban on critical race theory.
Campus Reform reached out to Keaton, Holstein, Barnhart, and Wamsley for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft