Kansas State Senate Passes Education Censorship Bill

by Delphine Luneau

Education Censorship Bill Tries to Erase and Marginalize People of Color, LGBTQ+ People

KANSAS – Yesterday, the Kansas State Senate passed Senate Bill 496, an education censorship bill that tries to erase and marginalize people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other oppressed voices in the classroom.

If the bill becomes law, parents could object to lesson plans and materials used in the classroom on the purported basis that it’s harmful to the child or “impairs the parent’s firmly held beliefs, values or principles.” Parents could also challenge any book, magazine or other resource available to students in the school library and petition for its removal.

All students – no matter their background, sexual orientation, or gender identity – deserve the freedom to learn: to develop the knowledge and skills to reckon with our past, shape a better future, and pursue their dreams. The bill sanitizes information and truth in school curriculums and does not equip students with the critical thinking skills needed to succeed.

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow issued the following statement in reaction to the Kansas State Senate passing SB 496:

“This bill is a harmful attempt to exclude certain communities from school curriculums and erase core parts of our history. Young adults deserve an education that reflects our diverse society and enables them to learn from the mistakes of our country’s past to help create a better future. Teachers want to provide students with an accurate and quality education and should not be forced by politicians to teach lessons that edit or remove marginalized populations including LGBTQ+ people. We must create meaningful space for our teachers to teach and our students to learn.”

Yesterday, the Kansas Senate also passed Senate Bill 484, a bill that would prevent transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, from the elementary to university level. The Kansas Senate passed Senate Bill 208, another anti-trans sports ban, last week. Both bills are now in the House and await a hearing date.

The latest PRRI data show that support for LGBTQ+ rights is on the rise in Kansas and nationwide: 77% of Kansans support nondiscrimination protections, and 57% of Kansans oppose refusal of service on religious grounds. Approximately eight in ten Americans (79%) favor laws that would protect LGBTQ+ people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. This reflects an 11% increase in the proportion of Americans who support nondiscrimination protections since 2015 (71%).

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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