Parents in one Virginia school district continued to fight their school board in court this week to remove what they say is “racially divisive” curriculum content.
Five families sued the school board of Albemarle County Public Schools in the Charlottesville area over a “discriminatory” policy they say indoctrinates students in a racially divisive ideology and compels them to say they support it.
The “racially and religiously diverse” group of families appealed last year in June after a lower court dismissed their case.
Oral arguments in the appeal were held Tuesday in the Virginia’s Court of Appeals.
The controversial policy, which the school board enacted in 2019, requires schools to inject Critical Race Theory-inspired ideas into the classroom, the parents claim.
“All curriculum materials shall be examined for racial bias,” and the district “shall implement an anti-racist curriculum and provide educational resources for students at every grade level,” the policy states.
Parents in the school district are not allowed to opt their children out of the “anti-racist curriculum,” and those who dissent are labeled “racist,” the parents claim.
The parents allege that the policy violates students’ civil rights by treating them differently based on race as well as by compelling them to affirm ideas against their moral beliefs.
The families were represented in court by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
“Every student deserves to be treated equally under the law, regardless of race or religion. Public schools can’t impose demeaning stereotypes on students based on these characteristics,” said ADF Senior Counsel Vincent Wagner in remarks ahead of the court hearing.
“Parents have the fundamental right to know what their kids are being taught in public schools and to protect them from policies and curriculum that compel them to affirm harmful ideologies. We urge the court to take a hard look at the school board’s discriminatory policy,” Wagner said.
Kate Anderson, senior counsel for ADF, said one of the activities students were required to do involved raising their hands to identify their “privilege” to their fellow students.
In another activity, students had to write down characteristics of the “oppressor” and “oppressed” classes, she said.
“And so what went in that box were ‘White, Christian male,’ and then they were supposed to metaphorically break that box,” Anderson told Fox News.
The lawsuit cited an eighth-grade pilot program for the new “anti-racist” curriculum that taught students that the U.S. “dominant culture” is people who are “white, middle class, Christian, and cisgender.”
The pilot program also claimed that “subordinate culture” includes “black, brown, indigenous people of color of the global majority, queer, transgendered, non-binary folx, cisgender women, youth, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, non-Christian folx, neurodiverse, folx with disabilities, folx living in poverty,” according to the complaint.
“And anti-racist is really code for adopting fully the CRT-based policy that views everyone through the lens of race,” Anderson said. “And students were instructed in class that if they were silent, that supported the most egregious forms of racism, so that they had to adopt this ideology and incorporate it into their lives and announce that to their classroom in order to be in alignment with the policy.”
Critical Race Theory-inspired themes in curriculum content has become a hot button issue in recent years. Parents in school districts across the country have raised objections to their children being taught lessons with racial messages they find detrimental.