Pa. lawmakers introduce TRUE Act as local district works on diversity curriculum

Inside My Classroom_169418

Note: Answers from South Middleton School District came before HB 1532 was introduced.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Just last week, Pa. Representatives Barb Gleim (R – Cumberland) and Russ Diamond (R – Lebanon) made the announcement they want to bring legislation forward to ban “Critical Race Theory” from being taught in school.

The two say the legislation would prohibit the teaching, funding, or spreading information of racist and sexist concepts by the state and any political subdivisions, including school districts. This bill, House Bill 1532, is called the Teaching Racial and Universal Equality Act.

“Our legislation makes it clear that no Pennsylvania school district, public post-secondary institution, or state or local government entity shall teach that any race or sex is superior to another, that any individual based on their race or sex is inherently racist or sexist, or that any individual should receive favorable treatment or be discriminated against based on their race or sex,” Gleim said.

The bill is sponsored by 23 other representatives, and the goal is to get it enacted in 60 days, if it’s passed. It did not say whether any other method would be banned.

At South Middleton School District in Boiling Springs, the administration wants to bring the community together and learn to respect and understand diversity and inclusion. But, much of their decisions and communication about it came with backlash from the community, many referencing Critical Race Theory, at an April school board meeting.

While parents agreed a curriculum of this nature is necessary to understand the world around the students, critics at the meeting called the program and critical race theory as “racist,” “indoctrination,” “destructive to the constitution,” “unequal,” and “based upon one world view.”

“Unfortunately, there was initial confusion among the school community about what we were doing,” Dr. Matthew Strine, Superintendent of SMSD said to abc27. “We realized the process should have started with an in-depth conversation with parents, students, staff, faculty, alumni, administrators, and residents. We knew that oversight was something we needed to correct, so we pressed the pause button.”

Since that April meeting, the district is fully committed to being transparent throughout the process, and that it’s all in support of the students.

“Our students are at the center of everything we do,” Strine said. “We respect and appreciate having a school community which cares so deeply about these students. Our goal has always been to prepare our students for success in school and after they graduate. We know by working together we can achieve that important goal.”

The Pa. Department of Education is also available to school districts to provide resources and a toolkit to provide the best outcome.

“The department has numerous resources available on our website to assist schools in ensuring that all children, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation have the opportunity to learn free from discrimination, fear, or harassment,” the department said.

Florida became the latest state to ban Critical Race Theory, with Governor Ron DeSantis saying that “children will be separated by their skin color and deemed permanently oppressors or oppressed in 2021.” Rep. Gleim also responded:

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