House Democratic Caucus Ducks Vote To Ban Critical Race Stereotyping In Michigan Schools
Very unusual to see a legislative caucus abstain on a proposed law here
On Nov. 22, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission approved a resolution condemning two bills introduced in the state Legislature on critical race theory and related issues in public school curriculums.
One of these is House Bill 5097, which passed the House on Nov. 2 with support from all Republicans who were present. (Two were absent.) In an extremely unusual move, House Democrats abstained from the vote, making the final tally 55 in favor and none against. State Rep. Donna Lasinski, the House Democratic Leader, didn't respond to an email asking why the Dems abstained.
In its resolution on the bill, the commission claimed it would prohibit schools from teaching CRT. But the term “critical race theory” does not appear in this bill. House Bill 5097 does, however, prohibit “the promotion of any form of race or gender stereotyping,” which it defines as the following assertions:
• That all individuals comprising a racial or ethnic group or gender hold a collective quality or belief.
• That individuals act in certain ways or hold certain opinions because of their race or gender.
• That individuals are born racist or sexist by accident of their race or gender.
• That individuals bear collective guilt for historical wrongs committed by their race or gender.
• That cultural norms or practices of a racial or ethnic group or gender are flawed and must be eliminated or changed to conform with those of another racial or ethnic group or gender.
• That racism is inherent in individuals from a particular race or ethnic group or that sexism is inherent in individuals from a particular gender.
• That a racial or ethnic group or gender is in need of deconstruction, elimination, or criticism.
• That the actions of individuals serve as an indictment against the race or gender of those individuals.
According to the commission’s resolution, the House bill (and one in the Michigan Senate), “censors classroom speech and classifies race and gender variables as ‘stereotypes,’” and “promotes censorship and book banning.”
In an article on the commission, the news service MLive said the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s resolution was a stand for academic freedom. It also said that the legislation “promotes censorship and book banning.”
Bridge Michigan, meanwhile, published a Nov. 5 op-ed by State Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden, who stated that HB 5097 would forbid schools from telling the story of her great-grandfather’s lynching.
But House Bill 5097 does not exclude any specific texts or lessons from the teaching of U.S. history. Only one thing is prohibited, which is “the promotion of any form of race or gender stereotyping,” which the bill explicitly and narrowly defines.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.