Imagine sitting in a classroom and being told that you don’t belong in a big house, can only be expected to communicate non-verbally and emotionally, or are responsible for the racial supremacy that teachers say oppresses your classmates, simply because of your skin tone. This is what middle-school students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds learn in Albemarle County, Virginia.
After parents from five families heard their children’s distress and confusion, they raised concerns with school officials only to learn that they could not opt out of the indoctrination. Faced with sending their children into an environment that subjects them to hostility on the basis of their race, religion, and other characteristics, these parents took steps to protect their kids. They sued the school to stop the school from subjecting their children and others to these harms.
Every child deserves to learn in a school that treats them as an equal and that respects their racial, ethnic, and religious differences. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education established that. But in Albemarle County, as in other places across the country, the application of critical theory to race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity in public schools turns the logic of Brown on its head.
Instead of treating students as equals, Albemarle County Public Schools’ curriculum crudely stereotypes them according to their immutable characteristics. A slide in teacher training described the communication of white people as “verbal,” “impersonal,” “intellectual,” and “task-oriented.” The communication of minorities was demeaned as “nonverbal,” “personal,” “emotional,” and “process-oriented.”
Albemarle County Public Schools enforces the new orthodoxy through a system of punishment that brooks no arguments or questions. If students don’t get on board with the view that their destiny, character, and status is determined by their race, ethnicity, and religion, their school can discipline them.
A Catholic student encountered hostility from other students after he stated what his faith taught him about identity. A Latina student from a successful immigrant family was disturbed after seeing a video that said people of color could not live in big houses. And the mother of a mixed-race student reported that her son joked about and discussed his own race in a negative way that she had never observed before the new policy.
In Brown, the Supreme Court pointed out that physically segregating students on the basis of race created a “feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” The Court recognized that “[s]uch considerations apply with added force to children in grade and high schools.” The Brown Court remedied this injustice. But by segregating students into new categories based on race, ethnicity, and religion, Albemarle officials have missed the point of Brown. In the name of fighting for justice, they commit new injustices against another generation of students.
The deliberate actions of the Albemarle schools have already injured students there. Making matters worse, their parents did not learn of the toxic curriculum until it was too late. Now, they seek to fulfill their duty to their children by educating them according to their religious and philosophical beliefs that all human beings are created equal. This idea used to be the foundation of American public education. But policies like the one in Albemarle County attack that foundation.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that “discrimination on the basis of race is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, inherently wrong, and destructive of democratic society” in City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson. It is also destructive to the hearts and minds of children. As long as education is compulsory, indoctrination must not be.
The Albemarle County parents are doing what is necessary to protect their children’s identity, sense of agency, and ability to hope and dream of what they can be. Unfortunately, critical theory teaches children what they can’t be.
School choice restores power to parents, which is the right solution. Both the court in this case and legislators across Virginia can make things right. Because of what their schools have done, the kids are not alright. It’s time for parents to fix that.
Emilie Kao is senior counsel and vice president of advocacy strategy with Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal), which represents parents and their children suing the Albemarle County School Board.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.