Morgan Craven, J.D. • Knowledge is Power • March 3, 2021 • Morgan Craven photo

In Virginia, the state Department of Education announced plans to eliminate a number of educational equity resources and rescind initiatives that had been developed to address inequities in schools. The announcement and accompanying report followed an executive order issued by the governor. The order required the Department to review all resources, websites, guidance and other materials to identify and remove so-called “divisive concepts.”

This list of concepts is being used to chill speech and justify the elimination of important diversity and equity initiatives in Virginia and other states. It has become the common cornerstone of the harmful classroom censorship bills being proposed and passed across the country, including House Bill 312 in Alabama, the most recent censorship policy proposed in the state. HB 312 would impact how race, gender and discrimination are discussed in K-12 schools and colleges and universities.

In Georgia, IDRA and other coalition partners continued to fight against similar classroom censorship bills. In a hearing this week, legislators heard testimony on Senate Bill 377, a policy that would suppress speech in classrooms and withhold funding from schools accused of violating the vague provisions of the bill. Students in Atlanta boldly protested this and similar classroom censorship policies.

In Texas, students continue to experience the harms of these policies and other attacks on their access to educational resources and books that reflect the diversity of our communities. This week, IDRA partnered with other civil rights and educational equity organizations to demand that the Granbury school district immediately return the more than 125 books it had removed from its school library shelves. Most of the books focus on histories of racism and discrimination and the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color.

IDRA will continue to monitor and work against these and other similar efforts and promote policies that ensure all students are able to attend excellent and equitable schools that reflect and sustain their identities. Please continue to access IDRA’s Knowledge is Power resources and encourage your friends to sign up for updates from our advocacy communities!

[©2021, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the March 3, 2021, edition of Knowledge is Power by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]