BY LI HAI
The bill, H 377 (pdf), was passed largely along party lines by 27–8. One Republican, Sen. Dan Johnson, joined Democrats in opposing the bill.
The bill mandates that no public schools “shall direct or otherwise compel students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to” critical race theory or similar tenets, such as “that individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.”
The legislation further requires that no money should be expended by the state board of education and public schools for anything prohibited by it.
Introduced on April 21 and passed in the state House the following day, it now heads to Gov. Brad Little’s office for approval after moving through the Senate.
According to Idaho’s law, the governor can approve the bill by signing it into law or allow the bill to become law by not signing it within the five days allowed.
When asked by The Epoch Times whether Little will sign the bill, his office only responded that the governor generally does not comment on pending legislation.
Around 100 high school and college students protested on the steps of the Capitol Building on Monday when the state senate was discussing the bill. Students claimed that the bill was government censorship, and the legislature didn’t give them a chance to voice their opinions.
Senate education committee chairman Steven Thayn, a Republican, said that no topic or book was banned in the bill, reported the Post Register.
“It doesn’t ban anything. What it says is that it cannot compel students to adopt or adhere to certain principles. … Critical race theory tends to undermine the thesis that each of us [is] responsible for our actions,” Thayn said.
Earlier this month, Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin assembled a task force to “protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism, and Marxism.”
“We need to look at what Florida, Arkansas, and North Carolina are doing to combat these poisonous theories,” McGeachin said at the time.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently denounced critical race theory as unsubstantiated and hateful.
“There’s no room in our classrooms for things like critical race theory,” he said. “Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money.”
Arkansas, North Carolina, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Texas, and Iowa have introduced similar proposals to push against the critical race theory.
Last September, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order that banned federal agencies, contractors, subcontractors, and grantees from instructing their employees to follow critical race theory tenets. However, President Joe Biden reversed it the first day he took office.
Last week, the Biden administration proposed two new funding priorities to encourage schools to teach critical race theory tenets.