Parents and students protest conservative lawsuit against anti-racism education

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The right-wing Southeastern Legal Foundation is suing an Illinois school district over its anti-racist curriculum.

Parents and students in Evanston, Illinois, held a rally on Tuesday to protest a lawsuit backed by a conservative foundation attempting to undo antiracist education and training in schools there.

Conservatives and Republicans have sought to depict anti-racist education and training in schools and in the armed forces as "critical race theory," which is generally the academic study of systemic racism.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 in Illinois is being sued by drama teacher Stacey Deemar, who alleges that the school's programs promote anti-white discrimination. The suit was filed by the conservative Southeastern Legal Foundation, which is part of a right-wing coalition suing school districts over "critical race theory."

At the rally, activists said that they believe it is valuable for children to learn anti-racism.

"I see this conflation of critical race theory and attacks on anti-racist policies here in Evanston and across the nation as being nothing more than a war on reality itself," noted activist Sebastian Nalls, one of the speakers at the event.

On its website, the school district notes it "recognizes that excellence requires a commitment to equity and to identifying practices, policies and institutional barriers, including institutional racism and privilege, which perpetuate opportunity and achievement gaps."

Southeastern Legal Foundation claims that the district is "forcing its teachers to participate in, teach their students, and observe programming that discriminates against individuals on the basis of race." The same group is also part of a lawsuit filed against the Biden administration that is attempting to stop loan forgiveness for minority farmers.

The foundation has been working with conservative activist Christopher Rufo as part of a coalition opposing "critical race theory." Rufo, who is from the anti-evolution Discovery Institute, has admitted that his crusade against "critical race theory" is designed to inflame sentiment among right-wing activists and the public at large while advancing the conservative cause.

"The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think 'critical race theory,'" he wrote on Twitter in March. "We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans."

The conservative Fox News has promoted the lawsuit against the school district as part of its monthslong campaign to demonize "critical race theory." Republican officials have said they hope to prioritize the topic as the main issue for Republicans to win back control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.