School Allows Parents To Opt Out of Black History Month Lessons, Sparking Backlash

An elementary school in Indiana has sparked a backlash after sending out a letter allowing parents to opt their children out of learning about "equity, caring and understanding differences" during Black History Month.

Parents of children attending Sprunica Elementary School in Nineveh were informed about the lessons taking place between February 14 and 25 in a letter, according to a photo shared on Twitter on Tuesday.

"February is a time for caring and growing for our students. In honor of Black History Month and Valentine's Day, I will be coming around and teaching lessons related to equity, caring and understanding differences," the letter, signed by school counselor Benjamin White, said.

It added that studies show that students "who have a greater understanding of diversity in the classroom and outside world will demonstrate improved learning outcomes such as improved grades, better peer relationships, and greater career success later on. These lessons can provide a great impact on students and help facilitate a better learning environment for all."

The letter goes on to say that parents who want their child to receive the lessons do not need to take any action. But those who wanted to opt out were asked to sign the letter to declare their child does not have permission to receive the lessons.

The letter has sparked an outcry on Twitter, and was described as another effort to limit the teaching of America's racist past.

White and the principal of Sprunica Elementary School have been contacted for comment.

"This tells you everything you need to know about the people behind these educational gag orders banning the teaching of racism," wrote Sari Beth Rosenberg, a U.S. history teacher, in a tweet.

Jemele Hill retweeted the letter, adding: "Protecting white supremacy at all costs is the American way."

MSNBC's Joy Reid also shared the letter, writing: "Learning about great Black people in history will clearly make their kids feel uncomfortable. Better to limit their knowledge of Black folks to whatever Fox News and Rogan say about them, just to be safe. Yay, Murica! #CRT."

And Jenée Desmond-Harris tweeted that the move was "especially ridiculous when you remember most Black History Month lessons are about MLK and involve kids drawing self portraits with thought bubbles that say 'I have a dream that I get a dog' or 'I have a dream that I can have all the screen time I want' or something."

Emily Tracy, the superintendent of Brown County Schools, told Newsweek: "Our district supports teaching about the facts in our history including historical injustices. We are and will continue to be committed to having compassion for all and supporting an education community that will allow all students, staff, families and community members the opportunity to feel welcome."

In a message sent to students, families and staff on Wednesday, Tracy said: "A message recently went out to the families of one of our elementary schools related to lessons on equality, caring and understanding differences taught during the month of February. The message identified an option to opt out a student. We are gathering more information on the matter. In the meantime, know that we support teaching about facts in our history including historical injustices."

Stock photo
Stock photo showing an empty classroom. An elementary school in Indiana has reportedly allowed parents to opt their children out of learning about "equity, caring and understanding differences" during Black History Month. iStock