Lawsuit: Illinois School District Forced Students On ‘Privilege Walks,’ Compared ‘Whiteness’ To The Devil
High School Classroom
Dan Forer via Getty Images

A lawsuit filed against an Illinois school district Tuesday alleges that the district violated anti-discrimination laws while teaching “anti-racist” course work.

Stacy Deemar, a middle school drama teacher, sued the school district over its curriculum allegedly forcing students to participate in “privilege walks” separated by race, comparing “whiteness” to the devil, and other lessons that pit “different racial groups against each other,” according to the suit.

“Fostering racial identities, promoting the idea that they are in conflict, and perpetuating divisive stereotypes pits teachers and children against one another based on the color of their skin,” the lawsuit says. “They teach them that their whole identity comes from the color of their skin. They teach them to hate each other. They teach them not only how to be racist, but that they should be racist.”

The Southeastern Legal Foundation is representing Deemar in her lawsuit. The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR) outlined some of the allegations made in the lawsuit:

… The school engaged in racial segregation, depicted “whiteness” as a devil, and taught that whites are inherently oppressive. …

Teachers were separated by race, instructed on the problems with “white talk” and “white privilege,” and required to participate in “privilege walks.” …

Students as young as kindergarten were separated by race into “affinity groups,” told to participate in “privilege walks” based on their skin color, and given books depicting “whiteness” as a devil that “mess[es] endlessly” with “all fellow humans of color.” …

The children were also taught “whiteness is a bad deal,” white people send “overt and subliminal messages” that they are “superior” and black people are “bad, ugly, and inferior,” and color-blindness is racist. …

The school website proclaimed 5-year-old children, “especially while children,” are not “racial innocents.” The complaint alleges these discriminatory and hostile practices violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection guarantee.

The Evanston School District, located just north of Chicago, is outspoken in its commitment to “racial and educational equity.”

“District 65 recognizes that excellence requires a commitment to equity and to identifying practices, policies and institutional barriers, including institutional racism and privilege, which perpetuate opportunity and achievement gaps,” the district’s website says.

The website goes on to state that the district is focused on race as “one of the first visible indicators of identity.” The website also states that the district aims for equity, not equality “where all students are treated the same.” The website states:

… District 65 is committed to focusing on race as one of the first visible indicators of identity while recognizing that the district’s students hold multiple, intersecting identities such as mental or physical ability, sexual orientation including gender identity and/or expression, religion, economic status, national origin and any other personal characteristics.

The concept of educational equity goes beyond the definition of equality – where all students are treated the same – to fostering a barrier free environment where all students’ unique needs are addressed and supported by resources which are allocated in a fiscally responsible manner.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism is representing Deemar in her lawsuit. She is being represented by the Southeastern Legal Foundation.

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