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A group of Virginia parents filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the “anti-racism policy” of the Albemarle County Public Schools, arguing that the program indoctrinates children in a radical ideology that teaches them to “affirmatively discriminate based on race.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys for five families asked the court to halt enforcement of the policy, saying that it “treats students differently based on race in direct conflict with the Supreme Court precedent and the Virginia Constitution and state law.”
“The Policy is racist at its core,” said the lawsuit filed in Albemarle County Circuit Court in Charlottesville. “The Policy and the curriculum it mandates indoctrinate children in an ideology (sometimes called ‘critical race theory,’ ‘critical theory,’ or ‘critical pedagogy’) that views everyone and everything through the lens of race.”
Instead of “exploring ideas or philosophies surrounding justice and reconciliation, that ideology fosters racial division, racial stereotyping, and racial hostility. So does the Policy,” the lawsuit said.
“The question in this case is not whether racism still exists; it does. Nor is the question whether racism must be vanquished; it must,” said the complaint. “Rather, the question is whether Defendants may use unconstitutional means to indoctrinate students with an ideology that teaches children to affirmatively discriminate based on race. The Virginia Constitution answers with a resounding ‘no.’”
The lawsuit comes as the latest salvo in the battle over racially charged curriculum in public education, a particularly hot topic in Virginia, where Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governor’s race last month after blasting critical-race theory.
BREAKING: We just filed suit against Albemarle County Public Schools, challenging its CRT-inspired indoctrination program that teaches kids to view everything and everyone through the lens of race, fostering division.
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) December 22, 2021
The Albemarle program, based on the policy passed by the school board in 2019, appears modeled on the philosophy of anti-racism guru Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be An Anti-Racist,” who has said that the “only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination” and that capitalism is “essentially racist.”
The district’s anti-racism staff orientation includes a video excerpt from a Kendi interview, according to the lawsuit, while all 11th-grade students were given copies of “Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You” by Mr. Kendi and Jason Reynolds.
In the 2021 spring semester, the district launched a pilot program at a middle school that sought to indoctrinate students in racial stereotypes, treated students differently based on race, and pushed a political agenda, the lawsuit said.
For example, the program said that the “dominant culture” consists of “people who are white, middle class, Christian, and cisgender,” versus the “subordinate culture”: “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.”
“The program also tells students that ‘denial of white privilege,’ ‘remaining apolitical,’ believing that ‘we all belong to the human race,’ and taking certain positions on such controversial political issues as school funding, immigration policy, and criminal justice reform constitute racism and must be contested for one to be ‘anti-racist,’” said the lawsuit.
Assistant superintendent Bernard Hairston touted the policy in a video posted online, saying that “the school system must be serious about confronting this institutional system based on advancing whiteness.”
“Now consider this controversial statement by some researchers: You are either a racist or an anti-racist,” Mr. Hairston said. “It is time for you to think about how you will own this required anti-racism training and the policy.”
The Washington Times has reached out to the district for comment on the lawsuit.
When the parents of a biracial child raised concerns about the focus on skin color, they were told that there would be “safe spaces” for minority students, which the parents said “sounded like segregation.”
Another student said he experienced “increased hostility from other students because of his Catholic faith.”
One family withdrew two of their children from the school over concerns about the pilot program and enrolled them in private school at “significant cost.”
The district said that the anti-racism policy will cut across every class and subject matter, “making it impossible to effectively opt out of the Policy implementation,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction on the program and assurances that students may opt out without penalty, as well as compensatory damages for the costs of “alternative education.”
“Schools exist to educate, not indoctrinate children. Every parent has the right to protect their children against a school district that uses their authority to indoctrinate students in harmful ideologies,” ADF senior counsel Kate Anderson said. “Our clients believe that every person is made in the image of God, deserves respect, and therefore, should not be punished or rewarded for something over which they have no control.”
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