A math and science school in Illinois runs an annual race-based retreat open only to black and “Latinx” students, according to a civil rights complaint filed to the Department of Education on Wednesday by a parent’s rights group.
Parents Defending Education filed the complaint against the Illinois Math and Science Academy with the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights over racially focused programs at the school centering around the Brotherhood Sister Circle (BHSC), a club that appears to only be open for black and Latino students. The so-called “affinity” club has an annual retreat only open for students who are black or “Latinx,” according to a complaint shared with The Daily Wire.
“PDE and its members oppose discrimination on the basis of race and political indoctrination in America’s schools,” the complaint says. “Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy is offering affinity group programming to some that is not offered to all. Admittance into the Brotherhood Sister Circle affinity group is solely based on individual’s race and sex. Specifically, the group is open only to ‘Black’ and ‘Latinx’ individuals and certain events are further divided based on the individual’s sex.”
The complaint comes as schools across the country have faced scrutiny over emphasizing racial and sexual identity as opposed to education. A report last year showed that there were 53 schools in Illinois where there were zero students proficient in math.
“The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy magnet school gives preferential treatment to students solely based on race and sex,” Caroline Moore, vice president of PDE, told The Daily Wire. “The Brotherhood and Sisterhood Circle affinity group has a hard and fast rule that specifically forbids white male students.”
The information on the affinity club and the retreat put on by the Illinois Math and Science Academy, an advanced public school in Aurora catering to about 650 students in grades 10-12, was obtained by PDE through public information requests.
The school defended its program, saying it believes “in creating opportunities for students to celebrate their culture and discuss issues that reflect their identities.”
“We are happy to address any questions with the Office for Civil Rights should they wish to inquire further about our student club activities,” the school’s public affairs officer Tami Armstrong told The Daily Wire.
The complaint says that the school is violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which says federal funding cannot go toward racially discriminatory programming.
According to the school, the program is intended to give “black and Latinx students an opportunity to celebrate and enhance their strengths, creativity, intelligence, promote networking, community involvement, financial literacy, resources, and academic success.”
The club has a retreat every year, put on with the help of the school’s Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, that is for “Black and Latinx students to engage in meaningful conversations, fun activities, and meet alumni,” according to a flier for the retreat referenced in the complaint. Alumni who are black and Latino are also encouraged to register for the retreat.
In emails preparing for the retreat, school staff requested the contact information of black and Latino students while another requested that only a black or “Latinx” photographer be allowed to work the event.
“I would ask for Black/Latinx photographers so that pictures can be taken throughout the day,” the school’s DEI director requested in an email in March 2022 before the retreat.
PDE’s Moore said the request reveals “deep-seated hate” from organizers.
“The group even prohibited a white male yearbook staff member from taking their annual affinity group photograph,” Moore said. “This shows deep-seated hate towards a specific demographic and cannot be tolerated.”
At the retreat one year, there were breakout sessions focused on “men of color” and “women of color.” Another session was on “Black and Latinx Emotional Social Well-being in a Radicalized Society.”
“By intentionally separating students based on the basis of skin color and gender for educational programming, this unlawful practice perpetuates and condones discrimination in one of the state’s leading STEM institutions. This will have a long-term impact on the institution, as well as the individuals who inhabit it,” the complaint says.