Controversial Bill Banning Teaching of Critical Race Theory Passes in Idaho Senate

The Idaho Senate on Monday approved legislation banning the teaching in schools and universities of Critical Race Theory, which examines the ways in which race and racism intersect with politics, culture and the law. Proponents argue that such teachings "indoctrinate" students.

After being voted through by the state House last week, the bill, HB 377, was passed the Senate with a 27 to 8 on Monday. It now heads to the Governor's desk for it to be finalised into law.

The new bill prohibits "any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior," which, the bill says is often found in Critical Race Theory.

The legislation also ban teachings arguing 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 bill says that no distinction or classification of students shall be made on account of race.

It also argues "that individuals, by virtue of sex; race, ethnicity, religion, colour, or national origin is inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin.

The law will apply to all schools and institutes of higher education.

Critical Race Theory has become a more politically-charged topic in recent months. President Joe Biden's Education Department has proposed to use federal grant money to fund on teaching both The 1619 Project, originally from The New York Times, and Ibram Kendi's book, How to Be an Anti-Racist. Both works incorporate Critical Race Theory, and would be included in K-12 school curriculums.

Opponents of the proposals, including GOP lawmakers in Idaho, are concerned federal authorities could force belief systems on students in schools and cause more division.

On April 22, when the House floor was debating the bill, a North Idaho lawmaker cited the book To Kill A Mockingbird when arguing for House Bill 377.

Rep. Heather Scott, who represents Blanchard, said Critical Race Theory has been "creeping through our schools forever", and claimed that Harper Lee's classic novel was part of a sinister plan to indoctrinate children.

'To Kill a Mockingbird'...the message is made clear: white people are bad, black people are innocent victims, and the students were encouraged to believe that there was an endless era of black victimization. That's being taught down here," Scott said.

Newsweek has contacted several Idaho lawmakers involved in pushing the bill for further comment.

Other legislators have spoken out against the Biden administration's proposal to change the school curriculum to incorporate the theory. Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, have written to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urging a rethink of the grants to teach the two texts.

Idaho State Capitol building in Boise
The photo of the Idaho State Capitol building in Boise. The Idaho Senate on Monday approved legislation banning the teaching of in schools and universities of Critical Race Theory. Jordan McAlister/Getty Images