Here’s What’s Actually In The GOP’s Anti-Critical Race Theory Bills

Image does not relate to bills in question. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
Font Size:

State lawmakers across the country have spearheaded a fight against critical race theory (CRT) in public schools, and nearly 20 states have followed their lead.

CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet teaches individuals to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.

Public schools across the country have implemented features of CRT instruction into their classrooms, often without informing parents or the community. In December, a report showed that Seattle Public Schools allegedly held a training teaching white teachers to “bankrupt their privilege” and understand the “centrality of whiteness” in society. In Philadelphia, students were reportedly told to participate in activities celebrating a “black communist,” Angela Davis. (RELATED: ‘Define Critical Race Theory’: Far-Left Activists Quickly Shift Goalposts As Parents Nationwide Rebel)

As parents and community members have taken their concerns to school boards in hopes of preventing CRT from being introduced to students, states such as Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas have passed bills targeting CRT.

The bills outline vaguely on certain prohibited assertions, such as the notion that certain races should feel shame or guilt for actions from the past. This leads some, such as journalist Andrew Sullivan, to say the bills are too vague and veer “pretty close to unenforceable.” Some teachers have said they plan to ignore the ban, and have suggested there is no way for schools to prevent them from doing so.

Some educators have expressed concern over the little direction on what is appropriate for the classroom; the vague language also leaves some teachers feeling limited in discussing topics on race. (RELATED: Meet The Opponents Of Critical Race Theory The Media Does Not Want You To See)


Proponents of anti-CRT bills, including Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, have said that CRT teaches children to “hate each other” and the country. (RELATED: Gov. DeSantis: ‘There Is No Room In Our Classrooms For Things Like Critical Race Theory’)

Florida’s Board of Education passed a rule requiring public schools to teach topics in a “factual and objective” way without distorting or suppressing historical events like the Holocaust, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Civil rights movement. Theories that distort historical events include CRT, the rule said. “[M]eaning the theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.”

The rule banned instruction using material from the “1619 Project,” which is made up of multiple stories and poems about racism and slavery. The 1619 Project attempts to reframe America’s history and claims that its “true founding” was when the first slaves arrived in 1619. (RELATED: Top Historians Slam NYT ‘1619 Project’ As It Infiltrates Public School Curriculum)

The rule directs teachers not to share their personal views or “attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students” to perspectives that are not consistent with the state’s education standards.


House Bill No. 377 directly refers to CRT but does not ban it in public schools. Rather, the bill prevents public institutions of higher education from directing or compelling “students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to” many of the ideas in CRT, including that “individuals should be adversely treated on the basis of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin;” or that people are “inherently responsible for actions committed in the past.”

The ideas often found in CRT “exacerbate and inflame divisions on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origins, or other criteria in ways contrary to the unity of the nation and the well-being of the state of Idaho and its citizens,” the bill said. 


House File 802 in Iowa does specifically mention CRT, but says it is related to “racism or sexism trainings, and diversity and inclusion efforts” by public schools and government agencies.

The act allows public institutions to continue training that “foster a workplace and learning environment that is respectful of all employees and students,” but cannot promote “divisive concepts.”

The act defined “divisive concepts” as the idea that the U.S. and Iowa “are fundamentally or systematically racist or sexist” or that an “individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

Although the act does not specifically refer to CRT, trainings have often prompted participants to recognize their status as either an “oppressor” or “oppressed” due to their race and other characteristics. 

The act says that diversity and inclusion efforts at public schools universities must “discourage” students from discriminating against each other on the basis of race, color, and other characteristics. The act does not prevent public institutions from discussing divisive concepts as part of academic instruction, or from promoting “racial, cultural, ethnic, intellectual, or academic diversity or inclusiveness.”


House Bill 1775 in Oklahoma also did not refer to CRT by name, but prohibits public schools and universities from requiring students to participate in “mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.”

Teachers and other public school employees are prohibited from including several ideas from CRT into their classes. Among the ideas is that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously” and “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”

The bill also prohibits teachers from including in their courses the idea that “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of [a] particular race to oppress members of another race.”

This notion has been included in numerous CRT trainings. During a training reportedly attended by Lockheed Martin executives, for example, the trainers reportedly linked the “roots of white male culture” to traits including “hard work” and a “can-do attitude.”


In Tennessee, SB0623/HB0580 prohibits schools from promoting ideas commonly found in CRT, including the notion that someone is “inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously” by virtue of their race or sex,” and that an individual “bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex” by virtue of their race or sex.

The amendment also prohibits public school teachers from including such ideas in instructional materials. Other concepts that are prohibited include that one “race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;” and an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress” solely because of their race or sex; “a meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex.”

The amendment does not prohibit public schools from allowing teachers or other employees to use instructional materials that include the history of an ethnic group, the “impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history,” and “impartial instruction on the historical oppression” of certain peoples based on race, ethnicity, and other characteristics. 

Public schools that violate the law will have state funds withheld until the school is no longer in violation of law.


H.B. 3979 adopts American founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers as part of the state’s social studies curriculum, and prohibits schools from requiring teachers and other employees to engage in “training, orientation, or therapy that presents any form of race or sex-stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or sex.”

Teachers, administrators, and other public school employees are prohibited from including the idea that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” The bill also includes a ban on concepts included in other states’ bills targeting CRT. 

Like Tennessee, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Iowa, the Texas bill prohibits instruction that tells students that certain individuals “bear responsibility” for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race. Texas will also prohibit instruction that claims “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist” or were created by a particular race to oppress others.

Unlike the other states, however, Texas’s bill prohibits schools and teachers from requiring students to participate in political activism or programs involving social or public policy advocacy. Schools and teachers cannot offer incentives like extra credit for students who participate in activism.

“While all of the other states deal with the classroom alone, Texas House Bill 3979 goes several steps further, Republican Texas state Rep. Steve Toth told the Daily Caller.

“Texas bans liberal PAC money that trains teachers in CRT indoctrination. We also empower teachers so they can refuse to take part in CRT training. Further, we block incentives that promote action civics (aka protest civics) over academic rigor,” Toth added.

Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are the states where bills were introduced in legislature targeting CRT, according to NBC News.