Tennessee subcommittees to discuss bill on ‘divisive topics’ in public higher education | State

(Center Square) – A bill on requirements related to “separating concepts” in Tennessee’s public colleges and universities is scheduled to be debated in both the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The bill will require public higher education institutions to conduct on-campus climate reviews with faculty and students every two years regarding the level of comfort students have when talking freely on campus.

“This law is an attempt to ensure that the efforts of our public universities for incredible diversity are not undermined by an initiative that seeks to further divide the people of Tennessee,” said Ron M. Gant, R-Piperton’s spokesman. Bill on the house 2670 for Speaker Cameron Sexton. “We refuse to form concepts that try to cast a shadow over groups of people because of factors beyond their control. The divisive concepts we are trying to consider may seem familiar to you. ”

Charlie Baum’s spokesman, R-Murfreesboro, compared it to a bill passed related to teaching K-12 last year, and said it would be good to look back on the impact of the bill.

The bill was amended by the House of Representatives’ subcommittee on higher education, requiring an investigation into any reported violations.

A spokesman for Yusuf Hakim, D-Chattanooga, asked if the bill was an attempt to remove “critical racial theory” from Tennessee colleges and universities, but Gant said succinctly “no”.

“No one is against a free and open discussion of concepts, history, all issues,” said spokesman Mark White, R-Memphis. “It’s a place where the pendulum swings so far, where you can’t have a free and open discussion because there’s a movement to say you’re wrong, we’re right.

“Let’s not try to teach our young people a certain faith, because that’s what I believe or you believe.”

A version of the bill of the House of Representatives is scheduled to be discussed by the Education Committee on Wednesday Senate version is on the agenda of the Senate Education Committee.

“Do we have any evidence to suggest that putting forward such a concept, combating sharing concepts and so on, is a best practice anywhere in the country?” Hakim asked. “Is it studied? Is it an emotional reaction to the concept of critical racial theory? ”

Gant replied again, “As far as I know, no.”

The bill will not allow schools to provide compulsory education that includes separating concepts, or introduce an agreement requirement with any separating concepts to complete a course that Gantt explained as “mandatory adherence to separating topics.”

“This ensures that our universities remain places of open dialogue,” said spokesman Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, without “… forced agreement with the idea. You can still discuss and talk about the negative impact. ”

MP Antonio Parkinson, Memphis, questioned whether open dialogue would be considered as part of a course that discusses slavery, outside the lines in this bill.

“I hope we can really … stay in a space where we can freely discuss all these issues,” Parkinson said. “Because it will lead to the healing of our country. I want to make sure that no one is intentionally made to feel uncomfortable. “


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