Reagan Reese on December 3, 2022
- Instead of keeping Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender identity lessons out of their school districts, Utah is embracing the teachings despite parent pushback.
- Red states like Oklahoma and Florida have outlawed CRT and gender identity lessons, while Utah is allowing it to enter classrooms.
- “Many Utahans have an almost pathological need to be seen as nice, so sometimes we don’t push back like we need to and we get taken advantage of. And the other problem is complacency. When everyone in your state or your district in a place of power has been representative of your culture for so long, you kind of lower your guard,” Jared Whitley, an Utah GOP consultant, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Utah is going against the trend of Republican states and embracing gender identity and Critical Race Theory (CRT) curriculums within its classrooms, Utah residents told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
While other red states, such as Florida and Oklahoma, are taking action against gender identity lessons and CRT within schools, the state of Utah is embracing it despite being considered one of the most conservative states in the country. School are accepting the sexually explicit content and CRT lessons within the classroom despite parent pushback, Utah residents told the DCNF.
“There are a couple of problems being taken advantage of,” Jared Whitley, an Utah GOP consultant, told the DCNF. “One is that many Utahans have an almost pathological need to be seen as nice, so sometimes we don’t push back like we need to and we get taken advantage of. And the other problem is complacency. When everyone in your state or your district in a place of power has been representative of your culture for so long, you kind of lower your guard.”
In July, Nebo School District, which has approximately 35,000 students, gave parents of elementary-school-aged children the option of registering their child for school as transgender or non-binary.
“This is a generic registration form, but it doesn’t change the fact that still parents of rising first graders have to sign that form and have to fill out the form,” Wenyuan Wu, executive director of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, a group working towards equal rights in education, told the DCNF. “That’s still problematic and coming from Utah, a traditionally conservative area, makes the case more bizarre or more intriguing.”
Utah’s largest school district, Alpine School District removed 52 books with plans to investigate another 32 for sexually explicit content in July. Among the books removed was “Gender Queer,” an explicit memoir on gender identity that includes graphic images of the character giving oral sex and masturbating, and “Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide For Teens,” which discusses “dealing with queerphobia, and having safe sex.”
Since May, residents from nine of Utah’s school districts have sent more than 280 complaints about sexually explicit content to the Utah Department of Education. Though others are under review, 84 books were removed from the schools, with 63 available to students who obtain parental permission.
“It’s a testimony to how powerful these teachers unions are, that they can ram this stuff in over the wishes of parents and state governments,” Whitley told the DCNF. “That is part of how this insanity gets into the school system. ”
In other red states, leaders are pushing legislation to ban CRT and gender identity lessons in schools; Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed HB 1775 into law, which bans CRT from being taught in the classroom and has punished schools within the state who have been found violating the law. When an Oklahoma teacher quit after violating the CRT ban, Oklahoma Education Secretary Ryan Walters suggested that any teacher wishing to push CRT in the classroom “find a new job.”
In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill into law in March which prohibits lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation in the state’s K-3 grades. Florida school board’s flipped to conservative majorities following endorsements from DeSantis, with two school boards immediately ousting the school’s superintendents.
Utah continues to go against the red state trend; the Utah Board of Education Thursday passed social studies standards for eighth graders emphasizing LGBTQ and minority communities. The parental rights in education group Utah Parents United called the standards “indoctrinating” and said the standards promote “social justice.”
Parents across the state have documented CRT in the classroom, including instances where white students were asked to “acknowledge their own racism,” according to the Utah Parents United website. Other instances included students participating in a “privilege walk” to demonstrate how “white kids have it so easy.”
“It looks like kindness and tolerance,” Cari Bartholomew, parental advocate and Conservative Americans For Equality, a group focused on protecting freedom and children, told the DCNF. “Well, who wouldn’t want to be those two things? But what they’re not recognizing is that this kind of kindness, tolerance and unity, it’s all been done before. It’s just a guise for the opposite. I always say diversity, equity and inclusion means no diversity of thought. Equity means equal outcomes, not equal opportunity. Inclusion means including people who think and act just like you. Everybody else is excluded.”
The Utah Board of Education, Utah Parents United, Alpine School District and Nebo School District did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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