Governor Noem signs bill to prohibit teaching certain divisive concepts in public universities

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) on March 21, 2022, signed a bill to prohibit critical race theory in public universities. The bill blocks public universities from incorporating divisive concepts into orientation and training materials that would prompt people to feel discomfort about their race. 

Noem has described the bill as a rejection of critical race theory but the text of the bill does not reference critical race theory directly. Instead, the law bans university orientation or training materials from promoting divisive concepts, including the notion “that any race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”  

Noem said in a release, “No student or teacher should have to endorse Critical Race Theory in order to attend, graduate from, or teach at our public universities,” according to US News.  

Advocacy Manager Jett Jonelis of The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Dakota, which opposed the bill, argued that, in their view, “It opens the door for a wide range of interpretations that could be used to chill free speech and academic freedom, discouraging open and honest discussions about systemic racism in classrooms and in higher education communities,” according to The Hill. 

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