Democrats See House Bill 1775 as Divisive, Unnecessary

Mike Seals - April 29, 2021 10:51 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY — House Democrats released statements today in response to legislation that undermines diversity training in Oklahoma colleges and universities.

House Bill 1775 will prohibit Oklahoma public schools, colleges and universities from incorporating certain messages about sex and race, also known as  ‘Critical Race Theory,’ into any course instruction earned final passage in the House today. The bill also will prohibit requiring mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling in the schools.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman: “As we’ve seen countless times this legislative session, with the consideration and passage of House Bill 1775, today the majority party chose to prioritize legislation that divides Oklahoma instead of unites us. Instead of focusing on the real issues facing Oklahomans, the majority party continues their attack on anyone in Oklahoma who might not look, think, love, or act like them.”

Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa: “The scariest part of this horrendous bill is the limiting of difficult discussions in a place that is supposed to be about learning and free thinking — our education system. How can we truly believe that the concept of diversity and inclusion should not be broached in a learning environment where we openly discuss diverse perspectives?”

Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa: “House Bill 1775 represents white male privilege and those who do not want individuals to be discomforted by the teaching of black and white facts of individual and collective racism past and present in America. Responsibility is not separated from the general collective benefits of white society.”

Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-OKC: “We spent another day on the House Floor using taxpayer dollars to discuss a bill that solves a problem that does not exist. The author of the bill was consistently asked about specific examples of the problem he is trying to solve with his legislation. Each time, he was unable to provide specific examples. What was passed today is a further attempt to divide Oklahomans and uphold mistruths to win partisan points. It is a disservice to Oklahomans who are demanding their elected leaders take on the challenges we face in education, health care, and our economy.”

Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman: “As a former 8th-grade and 10th-grade history teacher, the practical application of this bill could lead to censorship and undue pressure placed on history teachers as they attempt to do their job. House Bill 1775 is an example of major government overreach, and it absolutely strips away the autonomy of educators and local boards of education.”

Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-OKC: “There is inequity in our state, and it’s our job to work to level the playing field. But we tend to work to avoid that conversation instead, and now we’re dictating that our schools do the same. It hasn’t worked historically, and it won’t work now, to make Oklahoma a better place for all of us.”

Rep. Denise Brewer, D-Tulsa: “We have hungry children, desperate families, poor education funding, forgotten elderly, and an unstable economy. Yet today, we wasted three hours debating a bill which attempts to whitewash history and prevents diversity education.”

Rep. Mauree Turner, D-OKC: “At its base level the author of this bill is asking us to vote in good faith for a bill that he can’t provide any evidence for. If we really look at this bill, it’s a dog whistle to ‘ending discrimination’ by not recognizing the ways people individually uphold it. There is no way to talk about the history of this nation without getting emotionally invested. This bill doesn’t solve any issue and actually creates an issue of writing vague bills so any state-sanctioned discrimination can slip through them.”

Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa: “Under the OK Academic Standards we teach about World War II, but under this bill, we’d have to leave out Hitler’s well-documented conceptual beliefs on racial ‘purity’ and the superiority of the ‘Germanic’ or ‘Aryan master race’ that led to the slaughter of 6 million innocent people.

“Under the OK Academic Standards, we can teach about the Osage Murders that are documented in Killers of the Flower Moon. Yet under this bill, we must avoid the concept of racism in this story.

“This bill is poorly and hastily written, and the language omits the actual intent the author says is the purpose.  It comes on the heels of embarrassing, sexist remarks made last week right here in Oklahoma, in this very building. Yet with this bill, we cannot discuss the concept of sexism in our schools. The fact that the ugly truth of those words spoken was lost on the person who spoke them is a telling reason to avoid this bill’s passage. Words matter. When we are gone, the bill’s language is all that we have left.

“We would do well to avoid playing the thought police with this bill.”

Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa: “This is government by innuendo. This is government by whisper. This is Orwellian intrusion unworthy of the great state of Oklahoma.”


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