NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A bill that could change what is taught at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities is heading for a full Senate vote on Monday.
The bill would make it illegal for students at public universities to agree to what the state legislature considers “divisive concepts” in order to receive a higher grade.
Some examples given by lawmakers of what they call a “divisive concept” would be that one race or gender is superior or inferior to another or that a person’s race or gender is a determining factor in the moral character of an individual.
Lawmakers say the bill as written would not specifically prohibit the teaching of so-called critical race theory, as long as students were free to disagree with it without fear of harm. be penalized in class.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ron Gant, R-Piperton, says the bill puts in place the necessary safeguards to ensure diversity efforts don’t become divisive efforts. This bill will even give students the ability to sue the school if they believe any part of the proposed law has been violated.
“While we believe that students and employees of public colleges should be able to decide what subjects they wish to engage in, we maintain that it should be just that, a decision. This bill targets any mandatory injection of adherence to these divisional concepts as a prerequisite for graduation, promotion, tenure, or hiring,” Rep. Gant said. “The divisional concepts we seek to address may sound similar, familiar to you, they are the same concepts defined in Public Chapter 493 passed last year which prohibits inclusion in the K-12 curriculum.”
Democrats have raised concerns about the law, saying they want to make sure the truth is always taught.
The bill is on the Senate calendar on Monday, and it has already passed the House. If he passes, he will go to the governor’s office.