CUMMING, GA — Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday signed a package of education bills into the Forsyth County Center for the Arts and Learning, many of which targeted burning conservative issues such as the teaching issues of racial division, transgender participation in sports, and permitted content in school libraries.
The most notable of these bills is House Bill 1084, known as the Protect Students First Act, which prohibits the teaching of “dividing concepts” in the classroom as well as in vocational training. Under the law, divisive concepts are defined as those that espouse, among other things, that the United States is fundamentally racist; that a person, by virtue of their race, is inherently racist, bears responsibility for the past actions of people of the same race, or should feel anguish or guilt; and that advancement based on performance or work ethic appreciation is racist.
Parents, legally emancipated students, and school district employees can file complaints with the school district if they believe a violation of the law has occurred.
“We consider this bill to be designed to prevent the teaching of systematic racism and to attempt to preserve the legacy of Jim Crow, of which I am a part,” said Samuel D. Jolly, former president of Morris Brown College and president . of the HBCU Board of Past Presidents, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the bill passed the General Assembly.
The act also establishes a High School Athletics Executive Oversight Committee to oversee organizations such as the Georgia High School Association. The provision allows the committee to determine whether those born male at birth can participate in women’s athletics at the high school level.
Kemp took veiled swipes at Democrats and opponents of the bill at a press conference before signing the bills, including General Assembly lawmakers.
“Here in Georgia, our classrooms will not be the pawns of those who indoctrinate our children with their partisan political agendas,” Kemp said.
Terrence Wilson, director of regional policy and community engagement for the Intercultural Development Research Association, said Tuesday in a joint Zoom press conference with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center that bills are not what they claim to be – parental rights and divisive concepts.
“In truth, this effort is intended to give small but vocal parent groups the opportunity to censor what students may learn about the role of racism, bigotry, oppression and marginalization, not only within the framework of the true history of this country, but also their current impact on the experiences of students right now in Georgia,” Wilson said.
Kemp also signed Senate Bill 226, which bans books and materials he deems “harmful to minors.” Under the law, the term is defined as containing “nudity, sexual conduct, sexual arousal or sadomasochistic behavior” when it:
- appeals to the lustful, shameful or morbid interest of minors;
- is contrary to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole regarding what is appropriate for minors;
- without serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.
HB 1178, known as the Parental Bill of Rights, establishes procedures for parents to object to educational materials and classroom content, including student removal from sex education programs.
Another bill, SB 588, aims to ensure local school board meetings are more transparent, Kemp said, and includes a provision for boards to include a public comment agenda item for each meeting. regular monthly.
Other laws Kemp signed included a measure that doubles a scholarship tax credit program, another introducing a high school graduation requirement for students to take a financial literacy course. a half-credit and a third allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom full-time in areas of great need.