South Dakota State Legislature Sends Curriculum Censorship Bill to Governor’s Desk for Signature

by Elizabeth Bibi

Pierre, South Dakota –
Yesterday, the South Dakota Senate passed House Bill 1012, a curriculum censorship bill that was authored and submitted to the legislature by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. The bill now heads to Gov. Noem’s desk for signature.

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. HB 1012 sanitizes information and truth in school curriculums and does not equip students with the critical thinking skills needed to succeed. The bill forces self-censorship with educators and is an effort to erase and marginalize Indigenous history, LGBTQ+ education, and other oppressed voices in and outside of the classroom.

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement in reaction to yesterday’s vote:

“Students should be taught an honest and accurate history of our nation, including the good and the bad. Young adults deserve an education that enables them to learn from the mistakes of our country’s past to help create a better future. By teaching young adults the full scope of reality for LGBTQ+ and other marginalized people, both historically and today, we can help build a fully realized society where everyone can take pride in their individual identities.

While educators want to provide every student an accurate and quality education, Gov. Noem and South Dakota legislators want to exclude certain communities and write people out of our history books. Educators should not be forced by politicians to teach lessons that edit or remove history to justify the harms of the past or present. We must create safe spaces for our educators to teach and our students to learn.”

In a powerful moment during the committee hearing on HB 1012, Sen. Troy Heinert, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, shared how the bill would keep educators from teaching about his people's history. He stated, “I do not blame any member of this committee for what happened or the plight of the American Indian. I know it is not your fault, but I do expect you to understand it and be empathetic as to some of the conditions that we currently live in right now,” he said. “Let teachers teach. Let people understand the true history of our state, our country. We don't have to make them feel bad. That's not anybody's intention. But if you don't understand you're bound to repeat it.”

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