‘Divisive concepts’ are the divisive topic in a Minnesota school, where the board is trying to censor teachers from teaching history.
In the Becker district, a Minnesota school district from the north of Minneapolis, three school board members have put forth a proposal which would prohibit “political indoctrination or the teaching of inherently divisive topics” in the district’s public schools. The policy was read in July, and discussion has not been allowed. The proposal is being reviewed by the school district’s legal council, where it will hopefully die.
This motion falls in line with the recent nationwide surge of anti-equality legislation. For instance, Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill claims that its purpose is to protect children from being ‘indoctrinated’ about their sexual orientation by teachers (but it’s okay if that orientation is straight). Florida also passed laws banning teaching that any race has been associated with privilege or oppression at any point in history. This ‘divisive concepts’ policy in Minnesota is clearly intended to be more for of the same.
“It is, frankly, hard to know where to begin in unpacking the problems with this general policy statement,” said Meg Luger-Nikolai, attorney with the statewide teachers union Education Minnesota, who noted the prohibition of personal bias could make the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance subject to discipline because it requires showing prejudice in favor of the U.S. and its flag. But no one assumes it would be allowed to be interpreted that way. We’ve already seen that as well, when a Wisconsin school district recently reinterpreted their policy against teachers pushing political parties to ban pride flags and punish including pronouns in email signatures. It’s clear which ‘political’ affiliation is the only one to be suppressed.
Several groups, including LGBT students and their parents and first-amendment advocates, have already announced intentions to sue the school district should this policy be implemented.