Author of Texas bill to ban critical race theory says Martin Luther King Jr. would approve of it

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Republican Texas state Rep. Steve Toth firmly believes that a curriculum that teaches young people about systemic racism is itself a form of racism.

Toth is the primary author of the state’s House Bill 3979 , which seeks to ban the teaching of critical race theory — an educational movement that aims to contextualize recent and historical events in a framework of systemic racism — in public schools.

“This bill is a direct reflection of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” Toth told Yahoo News in a phone interview this week. “It echoes Dr. King’s wish that we should judge people on the content of their character, not their skin.”

Toth’s bill, which has passed in both chambers of the Texas Legislature and is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for signature into law, states that social studies and civics teachers are not allowed to discuss the concept that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” or the idea 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.” Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images The bill also states that teachers cannot be compelled to talk about current events, and if they do, they must “give deference to both sides." While supporters say this provision promotes objective teaching, critics counter that it limits honest conversation around the deep-rooted issues surrounding the history of race and racism in the U.S.

“The more people learn about critical race theory, whether Republican or Democrat, the more they oppose it,” said Toth, who noted that he is also a preacher, and said God led him to write this bill limiting the teaching of what he termed “an offshoot of critical theory and Marxism.”

Yet he also said his bill wouldn’t prevent a discussion about critical race theory, but would prevent teachers from endorsing what he sees as its conclusions.

“We’re not saying you can’t talk about critical race theory,” he added. “We’re saying you can’t tell a kid they should feel shame because of the color of their skin.”