Tennessee legislature passes bill to prohibit teaching certain divisive concepts in higher education

The Tennessee legislature on March 30 passed a bill that aims to prohibit an individual’s views on critical race theory from influencing decisions about hiring, tenure, promotion, or graduation in the state’s higher education institutions. 

House Bill 2670 would “prohibit a public institution of higher education from taking certain actions with regard to divisive concepts and the ideologies or political viewpoints of students and employees.” 

Tennessee state Rep. Ron Grant (R) released the following statement on the bill: “Any curriculum promoting the narrative that white privilege or racism is alive and well in Tennessee does not accurately reflect our state, our public education system or its residents. Our students deserve much better. This bill empowers employees and students of all races on our college campuses to think for themselves free from fear of discrimination and without being coerced to embrace any specific ideology or political viewpoint.” 

Opponents of HB 2670 argue it is an attack on what they describe as marginalized communities. “To take students’ ability to learn about those things away is not right,” said Tennessee State Senator London Lamar (D). Lamar added, “Most courses on diversity or issues regarding racism or gender studies are electives so you can choose to take those classes.”

The House voted 66-24 to approve the bill and the Senate followed with a 25-5 vote. The bill was pending further action by Gov. Bill Lee (R) as of March 30.