Parents in Albemarle County Public Schools in Virginia are continuing their legal battle against the school board, claiming that the curriculum promotes a racially divisive ideology. Five families, comprising a racially and religiously diverse group, appealed a lower court’s dismissal of their case last year. They argue that the school board’s policy, enacted in 2019, incorporates Critical Race Theory-inspired ideas into the classroom, violating students’ civil rights.
The policy mandates that all curriculum materials be examined for racial bias and requires the implementation of an “anti-racist curriculum” with educational resources provided at every grade level. Parents assert that they are not allowed to opt their children out of this curriculum, and dissenters are labeled as “racist.” They contend that this policy treats students differently based on race and forces them to affirm ideas that contradict their moral beliefs.
The families are represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which argues that every student deserves equal treatment under the law, irrespective of race or religion. They believe that public schools should not impose demeaning stereotypes on students based on these characteristics. Parents have the fundamental right to know what their children are being taught and protect them from policies and curriculum that compel them to affirm harmful ideologies, according to ADF Senior Counsel Vincent Wagner.
One of the activities students were required to do as part of this curriculum involved raising their hands to identify their “privilege” in front of their classmates. Additionally, students had to write down characteristics of the “oppressor” and “oppressed” classes. The lawsuit cited an eighth-grade pilot program for the new “anti-racist” curriculum, which categorized the “dominant culture” as “white, middle class, Christian, and cisgender” while labeling the “subordinate culture” as a variety of different groups.
The case highlights the growing debate over Critical Race Theory-inspired themes in curriculum content in schools across the United States, with many parents objecting to lessons they believe convey divisive and harmful racial messages.