Kentucky Lawmakers File Second Bill Targeting Discussion Of Racism In Schools

Jun 7, 2021

Kentucky Republican state Reps. Matt Lockett (left) and Jennifer Henson Decker
Credit Jess Clark | WFPL

Two more Kentucky Republican lawmakers want to limit teaching about systemic racism in the state’s public schools. Nicholasville Rep. Matt Lockett and Rep. Jennifer Henson Decker of Waddy filed a bill ahead of the next legislative session that they say would prevent public K-12 schools and public colleges and universities from teaching critical race theory. 

Critical race theory is a study of how institutions favor white people, and disadvantage people of color. Those ideas have gained more widespread understanding as calls for racial justice mounted after the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people in 2020. But, now, ideas about systemic racism are facing a conservative backlash.

“The language of BR 69 speaks clearly that the people of Kentucky stand united against this attempt to use our education system to indoctrinate our children,” Lockett and Henson Decker wrote in an emailed statement.

Fort Thomas Republican Rep. Joe Fischer prefiled a nearly identical bill last week focused on K-12 schools.

Several other red states, including Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have passed similar legislation. Much of the language in the bills comes from former President Donald Trump’s now-defunct executive order stopping federal agencies from discussing systemic racism in diversity and equity trainings.

 “This is a deeply cynical attempt to aggravate white grievance,” University of Kentucky history professor Nikki Brown told WFPL News. Brown said she was speaking personally, and not on behalf of her department or the university.

“I do believe that this is an attempt to try to gin up Trump’s base,” she said, pointing to Trump’s success in making racist, sexist and anti-immigrant rhetoric part of his platform.

Lockett and Henson Decker did not make themselves available for comment.