Why are parents suing Albemarle County School Board?
Albemarle County School District, in Albemarle County, Virginia, is indoctrinating children in critical race theory and “anti-racism” ideology. Parents raised concerns about the divisive and harmful curriculum, but school administrators ignored them. Left without any other recourse, a group of five families sued the school board to protect their children against this harmful and divisive curriculum.
Our clients are racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse and have all been harmed by the school district’s policies.
- One Latina student was told a harmful stereotype that students of color don’t live in big houses.
- A biracial student has been pushed to view his race negatively.
- One Catholic student experienced hostility when he stated his religious beliefs about identity.
What is Critical Race Theory?
Critical race theory teaches students to view everything and everyone through the lens of race and locks people into rigid categories of “oppressor” or “oppressed” based on their race.
At the heart of critical race theory is a redefinition of racism. Racism has long been understood as prejudice and discrimination based on race—in other words, unequal treatment. But under critical race theory, racism is now viewed as “systemic,” located in institutions, and found in any unequal racial outcome. And that, according to critical race theory advocates, now requires that institutions (like religion, private property, and the family) be “dismantled” and that people be treated differently based on race.
Critical race theory holds the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and America itself, in contempt as inherently racist and in need of being overthrown. It teaches that American ideals such as equal treatment under the law, honesty, hard work, bravery, innovation, individual responsibility, and good character merely serve to enable and sustain oppression and “whiteness.”1 Its goal is to dismantle and displace so-called dominant institutions such as the family, religion, private property, and classical liberalism.2
What is anti-racism? Is anti-racism the same as critical race theory?
Anti-racism is critical theory’s answer to racism. While anti-racism sounds good on the surface (Who wouldn’t want to be against racism?), it actually mandates more racism by advocating for people to be treated differently based on race. Leading critical race theorist, Ibram X. Kendi, embraces this new form of racism in his book How to Be an Antiracist, “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
Critical race theory advocates demand that all people must fight racism by becoming anti-racist. Anyone who does not comply or has an opinion that doesn’t align with this race-based indoctrination is automatically labelled as a “racist.” There’s no in-between. This includes believing—as our clients do—that people should be treated equally regardless of their race.
Is Albemarle County School District teaching critical race theory to students?
Yes, it is. In 2019, Albemarle County School District adopted an “Anti-Racism Policy.” Since then, public schools have begun implementing “anti-racism” curriculum for students and training for teachers based on the tenets of critical race theory. While you likely won’t find the words “critical race theory” explicitly, one only need to look at the curriculum and training to see that critical race theory ideology is at its foundation.
To give one example, in Henley Middle School’s “Courageous Conversations about Race” curriculum, it rejects the view that racism is a universal wrong that can be perpetuated by anyone and instead teaches children that racism is “the marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.” In other words, only white people can be racist. Numerous other examples can be found in Alliance Defending Freedom’s legal complaint.
What legal claims do the parents have against Albemarle County School District?
The district is violating students’ civil rights by treating them differently based on race, and by compelling them to affirm and support ideas contrary to their deeply held moral, philosophical, and religious beliefs. It has violated parents’ rights by indoctrinating their children, undermining their children’s humanity, and denigrating their deeply held beliefs.
Albemarle County public schools cannot coerce children to engage in speech or activities that violate their conscience and their parents’ rights to raise them according to their deeply held beliefs and values.
Should parents be able to influence what Albemarle County public schools teach children?
According to Virginia law, parents have a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent's child. Public schools should be transparent with parents—not withhold lesson plans, curriculum, and policies that guide how teachers and administrators interact with children. Moreover, public schools must be held accountable when they violate the rights of students and parents by teaching racist ideology.
Some people support what the Albemarle school district is teaching. How are public schools to decide what to do?
By following the law. The school district’s anti-racist curriculum and related policies chill free speech and violate the Virginia Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and freedom from discrimination on the basis of race or religion.