Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed legislation on Tuesday outlining how state schools can teach students about race and racism and forbidding schools from teaching that individuals bear responsibility for actions committed by people in the past because of their race.
It's the latest GOP-backed state bill to take aim at what is known as critical race theory, which examines how race and racism have impacted history and the present-day United States.
The Texas measure, House Bill 3979, doesn't actually use the term or address critical race theory, but it does echo other GOP arguments that have been used against it.
The legislation, which takes effect Sept. 1, mandates how the State Board of Education should frame its curriculum on history.
It says that schools cannot teach that “an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual ’s race or sex.”
Further, schools cannot “require an understanding of The 1619 Project,” a project published in The New York Times Magazine that investigates the history of slavery and race relations in the United States.
The bill says that schools are not allowed to teach that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
The legislation does give a list of historical texts that can be taught in class, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream" speech.
It also mandates that students be taught “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.”
The bill’s signing comes as several GOP-led states seek to ban critical race theory. Twenty-one states have either introduced legislation to ban critical race theory or have banned it altogether.