South Carolinian legislators have filed a bill, “Transparency and Integrity in Education Act” (H.3728), that could prohibit the teaching and training on concepts related to race, religion, politics, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Truthful and inclusive discussions about United States and South Carolina history – like the Trail of Tears, the Hamburg Massacre, Jim Crow laws and segregation, and the Stono Rebellion – and their connection to present-day inequalities are essential to accurate and quality academic instruction. No student or educator should have their history, humanity or lived experiences erased from the classroom.
The proposed bill may also unreasonably restrict important discussion of current events in K-12 classrooms. Educational entities that receive public funding to teach this history of discrimination or its connection to systemic inequalities could also be impacted, including public libraries. Read the full text of the bill here. Read our fact sheet on H. 3728 here.
This legislation could potentially have implications for public libraries, museums, and other sites dedicated to the preservation of accurate history and tourism across South Carolina. For example, South Carolina’s tourism industry accounted for 1 in 10 jobs and brought in over $23.8 billion in 2020. A substantial portion of that state revenue derives from activities or landmarks tied to South Carolina’s history on race, including education on the rich history of the Gullah Geechee community.
The Pro Truth South Carolina Coalition, led by the E3 Foundation, the Lowcountry Black Parents Association, Legal Defense Fund, and the ACLU of South Carolina, call for concerned South Carolina students, parents, educators, and residents to take action in response to this harmful bill in the state legislature that may limit or restrict the truthful teaching of American history and current events in schools. The bill may prohibit K-12 educators from teaching the full and accurate history of civil rights, the history of violence against Indigenous people, and ongoing racial and gender discrimination in South Carolina and the United States. Previously, LDF and the Pro Truth South Carolina Coalition opposed similar legislation proposed by South Carolina lawmakers, including H. 4325, H.4343, S. 534, H. 4392, H. 4799, and H. 4605.
Certain concepts are prohibited from any course of instruction, curriculum, assignment, instructional program, instructional material, or professional educator development or training.
H. 3728 includes an exception to its ban on certain instructional concepts if the instruction or materials involve the history of an ethnic group, as described in the S.C. State Standards and instructional materials; the fact-based discussion of controversial aspects of history; or fact-based instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion or geographic region.
It further prohibits any library or media material deemed not to be “age appropriate” or “grade appropriate.” However, it is still unclear what concepts would be deemed “fact-based” and which would be determined “controversial” under this law because the bill fails to articulate a standard or definition for those terms. It has also not defined what is “age appropriate” or “grade appropriate.” This could lead to inconsistent and/or arbitrary implementation.
H. 3728 also prohibits mandatory training for teachers on gender and sexual diversity, unless it is first required of them under a corrective action plan.
H.3728 has passed out of House Education and Public Works Committee to debate on the House floor, where it was passed with additional amendments on February 8th. Those amendments include a provision that will allow a parent/guardian to sue any school district in the state that they believe is in violation of the bill. It has now been referred to the Senate Education Committee and the K-12 subcommittee will be taking it up.
LDF has compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions about Critical Race Theory. Learn more about CRT, laws banning racial justice discourse, and how these fit into a larger effort to suppress the voices, history, and political participation of Black Americans.
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