These states want to ban ‘divisive content,’ critical race theory from classrooms

Two young female students being scolded by their teacher
Photo: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

Legislators in multiple states have introduced legislation in recent months proposing to ban the teaching of ideologies in schools that deal with race and power dynamics. 

According to one definition from the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, critical race theory (CRT) “argues that a students’ every day experience is informed by their encounters with racism.” The framework involves highlighting how race and racism play a role in society and institutions. 

Proponents of bans fear that teachers and school curriculums promote the ideology to their students, but critics often argue that as an academic framework, CRT is not taught in classrooms and that restrictions for teachers can stymie teacher’s freedom to instruct on difficult topics.

According to an Education Week policy tracker, 44 states have introduced legislation since January 2021 that would restrict the teaching of CRT. Of those, 18 states have passed legislation that would inhibit the instruction of the critical race theory framework or have other statewide policies in effect that would limit its teaching. 

Below are the states that have introduced legislation this year to stop public institutions from promoting critical race theory.

North Carolina 

Last week, a North Carolina state representative again introduced legislation that would limit what teachers in the state could teach students surrounding race and equality after similar legislation was vetoed in 2021. 

State Rep. John Torbett introduced HB 187, which would prevent school staff from promoting ideas that deem some individuals as superior to others based on race or sex, such as those espoused in critical race theory. It has been referred to the House Committee on Education K-12.

The bill would ban the promotion that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that an “individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.”

It would also outlaw teaching the notion that anyone bears responsibility for past actions committed by other members of the same race or sex or that a “meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist” or that the U.S. government “should be violently overthrown.”

Also prohibited is the promotion that the “rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups” or that “all Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”


Last month, a bill that would ban the teaching of critical race theory passed the Missouri Senate and moved to the state House.

State Sen. Andrew Koenig introduced Senate Bill 4 earlier this year, which would require local public, charter and virtual school boards to allow parents access to curriculum, textbooks and syllabi as well as preventing teachers and staff from discussing certain beliefs in the classroom.

That part of the bill delineates that

No school or school employee shall compel teachers to teach, or a student or teacher to personally adopt, adhere to, or profess a position…that individuals of any race, ethnicity, color, or national origin are inherently superior or inferior and that individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, bear collective guilt and are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by others. 

The Center Square reported that the legislation led to a heated exchange between Missouri’s senate leaders at the beginning of February, with critics arguing the prohibition is unnecessary. 

“It is a horrible bill, let’s be honest,” said Sen. Barabara Washington, D-Kansas City. “CRT is not taught anywhere in the state of Missouri, not even at an undergraduate level.”

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said: “What we’re trying to do is present kids with history and with facts and then let them make the decision and not try to point them in a direction that’s politically motivated. That’s the goal. Will we always get that right? No. Is every teacher like that? No.”


Alabama legislators have indicated that they are going to consider banning the teaching of CRT in classrooms across the state based on prefiled legislation before the state’s legislative session begins March 7. 

According to reporting from The Center Square, state Rep. Ed Oliver, R-Dadeville, is sponsoring House Bill 7, which would curtail how public schools, higher education institutions and governments discuss contentious topics. 

A synopsis of the legislation, which would allow public employers to terminate an employee for violating it, reads: 

This bill would prohibit certain public entities, including state agencies, local boards of education, and public institutions of higher education, from promoting or endorsing, or requiring affirmation of, certain divisive concepts relating to race, sex, or religion.

Alabama’s State Board of Education approved a policy in 2021 that prohibits the teaching of “concepts that impute fault, blame, a tendency to oppress others, or the need to feel guilt or anguish to persons solely because of their race or sex.”


In January, Nebraska state Sen. Dave Murman introduced a parental bill of rights bill, LB 374, which included provisions banning the teaching that any race is inferior or superior to another or that any race should be “adversely or advantageously treated.” 

It would ban the promotion of ideas including “that individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, bear collective guilt and are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, ethnicity, color, or national origin.”


Legislation that would ban the teaching of critical race theory in Arizona was passed in February out of a state House committee. House Bill 2458 was introduced by Rep. Beverly Pingerelli, and  explicitly bans teaching “that academic achievement, meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or were created by members of a particular race or ethnic group to oppress members of another race or ethnic group.”


On Thursday, the Arkansas Senate passed SB 294, also called the LEARNS Act, which included provisions explicitly targeting critical race theory, among other education provisions like creating school vouchers. 

“Steps required…shall include the review of the rules, policies, materials, and communications of the Department of Education to identify any items that may, purposely or otherwise, promote teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies, such as Critical Race Theory, otherwise known as ‘CRT,’ that conflict with the principle of equal protection under the law or encourage students to discriminate against someone…”

The legislation has now moved to the state House. 


Legislation introduced earlier this year in the Connecticut General Assembly, SB 280, would prohibit “the teaching of biased political ideology.” 

Like most other legislation, the bill would ban the promotion that any race is inferior or superior to another. It would also prohibit “race or sex scapegoating,” which the law defines as “assigning fault, blame or bias to a race or sex or to members of a race or sex because of the individual’s race or sex and similarly encompasses any claim that any particular race or sex is responsible for society’s ills.”

Other states

A bill introduced in the Illinois House this session which would prohibit the promotion of racial inferiority has been sent to the House Rules Committee. In Indiana and Minnesota, similar legislation has been introduced and sent to respective education committees. Two similar bills prohibiting the promotion of racial or sexual inequality were pre-filed in Oregon before the legislative session. Both are in the House Committee on Education. 

South Carolina has multiple pieces of legislation that would prohibit the instruction of critical race theory. West Virginia also has legislation in the state Senate that prevents teachers from instructing on “divisive concepts.” 

Brendan Clarey
Brendan Clarey is K-12 editor at Chalkboard Review. Reach him at

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