Families sue Ohio school board over critical race theory ban

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The school board in Forest Hills School District, east of Cincinnati, passed a resolution in June banning the teaching of critical race theory, anti-racism, identity and intersectionality for promote what he calls a “culture of kindness”.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Ohio District Court, alleges the resolution exposes racial bias within the school system and censors perspectives from marginalized communities. Six minors and seven adults are listed as complainants, including current students and their parents, one of whom is a teacher in the school district.

“It is certainly not a ‘culture of kindness’, but rather promotes hatred, racism and discrimination on the basis of race, identity and gender, and silences opposing voices to racism and discrimination, further endangering and diminishing already deprived rights and vulnerable voices within the school district,” the complaint read.

District Court Judge Michael Barrett has scheduled a hearing next week to consider a motion for a temporary restraining order filed Friday. Attorneys Kelly and Nicole Lundrigan, who represent the plaintiffs, filed the order to block enforcement of the school board’s ban on racial, socio-economic and gender identity education. The attorneys declined to comment on the case, citing their motion for a restraining order.

“The resolution cannot withstand the rigorous scrutiny it demands, and it must be rescinded and immediately prohibited from enforcement to prevent further irreparable harm,” the injunction motion reads. “As it immediately appears on first glance, the resolution is a racial, unprecedented, and unconstitutional censorship of discussions and training on ‘anti-racism’ among a host of other prohibited topics, which violates the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The debate over the merits of diversity and equity education in classrooms and critical race theory across the country has become increasingly politically contentious over the past year. and bans have gained momentum in states led by Republican lawmakers. A Florida law banning the teaching of critical race theory went into effect on Friday, and state lawmakers gave the go-ahead to a similar bill in Idaho, which also included universities.

The school district’s Board of Education resolution on the ban states that schools in the district cannot require people to “admit privilege or oppression” or influence a student to consider any aspect of their identity, like race or gender identity, “like a disability or a label” that could serve as a stereotype.

The plaintiffs argue that an enforced resolution would deprive students and teachers of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and information, particularly disadvantaging students of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+. The complaint also says the ban would violate their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, marked by the “vagueness” of the guidelines.

School district spokesman Josh Bazan said the school board and school district have received the complaint and are reviewing it with legal counsel. He declined to comment further.

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