By Matthew Vadum
A high school senior of mixed race is suing a taxpayer-funded charter school in Nevada over the “coercive, ideological indoctrination” that is central to its Critical Race Theory-based curriculum that forces students to associate aspects of their identity with oppression.
In the lawsuit, Clark v. State Public Charter School Authority, filed Dec. 22 in federal court in Nevada, the young plaintiff William Clark and his mother Gabrielle Clark claim their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were being violated. Students were allegedly told that by refusing to identify with an oppressive group, they were exercising their privilege or underscoring their role as an oppressor.
The lawsuit was filed by the Illinois-based group Schoolhouse Rights, whose website describes its mission as supporting “civil rights litigation in defense of students’ freedom of conscience in public education and the rights of parents to guide and direct the upbringing of their children.”
The student at Democracy Prep in Las Vegas whose mother is black and deceased father was white, claims there was a hostile classroom environment, and that he felt discriminated against in the mandatory, year-long “Sociology of Change” course required for graduation. There is another required class, “Change the World,” in which students carry out a political or social work project.
Because the so-called civics curriculum implemented by new management carried the same name as the previous curriculum, parents like Mrs. Clark “were not aware of the turn towards coercive, ideological indoctrination until they began seeing the detrimental effects it worked upon their children,” the legal complaint states.
The new curriculum “inserted consciousness raising and conditioning exercises under the banner of ‘Intersectionality’ and ‘Critical Race Theory.’ These sessions … are not descriptive or informational in nature, but normative and prescriptive: they require pupils to ‘unlearn’ and ‘fight back’ against ‘oppressive’ structures allegedly implicit in their family arrangements, religious beliefs and practices, racial, sexual, and gender identities, all of which they are required to divulge and subject to non-private interrogation.”
William was directed “in class to ‘unlearn’ the basic Judeo-Christian principles [his mother] imparted to him, and then [the school] retaliated against [him].”
“Some racial, sexual, gender and religious identities, once revealed,” the complaint states, “are officially singled out in the programming as inherently problematic, and assigned pejorative moral attributes by Defendants.”
The school principal told Mrs. Clark “that the theoretical basis of the revamped ‘Sociology of Change’ course is known as ‘intersectionality,’ and is inspired by political activist, academic and ‘Critical Race Theory’ proponent Kimberlé Crenshaw,” the complaint states. Crenshaw is a law professor at UCLA and Columbia Law School who is regarded as a leading authority on black feminist legal theory and is said to have coined the term “intersectionality.”
William Clark was required for assignments the legal complaint says “to reveal his racial, sexual, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities and religious identities,” by his teacher who greeted the students by saying, “Hello my wonderful social justice warriors!” Clark was told the next step would be to determine if parts of his identity “have privilege or oppression attached to it.” Privilege was defined as “the inherent belief in the inferiority of the oppressed group.”
The legal argument the Clarks make is that William is being compelled “to make professions about his racial, sexual, gender and religious identities in verbal class exercises and in graded, written homework assignments which were subject to the scrutiny, interrogation and derogatory labeling of students, teachers and school administrators.” The defendants “are coercing him to accept and affirm politicized and discriminatory principles and statements that he cannot in conscience affirm.”
The school repeatedly threatened William “with material harm including a failing grade and non-graduation if he failed to comply with their requirements,” the complaint states, and refused to accommodate his requests for reasonable accommodation.
Steven Hayward lauded the lawsuit at Power Line Blog, saying it heralds the beginning of an “active resistance” and a “counterrevolution” against the far-left takeover of American institutions.
“While misguided Millennials lean heavily progressive at the moment, the next generation of young people is going to swing sharply to the right out of rebellion against the stifling conformity of the progressive left that went into hyperdrive this year,” Hayward writes.
The lawsuit comes after President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13950 on Sept. 22 prohibiting the military, federal agencies, and federal contractors from promoting the “divisive concepts” that are part of Critical Race Theory in workplace trainings.
The theory is the basis for an intellectual movement whose adherents retired federal Judge Richard Posner, dubbed “the most-cited legal scholar of the 20th century,” has described as the “lunatic core” of “radical legal egalitarianism.” The late Derrick Bell, who was one of former President Barack Obama’s professors at Harvard Law School, was the most prominent scholar to promote the theory.
While Trump has referred to Critical Race Theory by name, the executive order does not, instead describing it as a “malign ideology [that] is now migrating from the fringes of American society and threatens to infect core institutions of our country,” including in “workplace diversity trainings across the country, even in components of the Federal Government and among Federal contractors.”
It is an ideology “rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.”
U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman, an Obama appointee based in San Jose, California, issued a preliminary nationwide injunction against EO 13950 on Dec. 22, USA Today reported.
She agreed with an LGBT diversity training organization that argued the order violated its free speech rights. “Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success in proving violations of their constitutional rights … the work Plaintiffs perform is extremely important to historically underserved communities,” Freeman wrote in an order.
The Epoch Times reached out to Rebecca Feiden, executive director of the State Public Charter School Authority, for a comment over the holiday weekend but had not received a reply as of press time.
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