MI House approves controversial bill banning teaching of 'implicit race or gender stereotyping'

Posted at 11:24 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 05:48:30-04

(WXYZ) — A hot button issue that is sparking debate around the country found it's way into the Michigan House where a controversial bill was just fast-tracked with a 55-0 vote.

The bill, which doesn't specifically mention the term Critical Race Theory, would ban teaching about implicit race or gender stereotyping in Michigan schools.

It's not only the contents of the bill that are angering House Democrats but how the bill was voted on.

Many members are angry that State Rep. Cynthia Johnson, a Democrat who is also Black, wasn't allowed to speak on the bill before the voting started. Republicans claim she didn't follow procedure.

"As I raised my hand, the acting speaker turned the voting box on," Johnson said.

The vote was for a measure that would ban teaching "implicit race or gender stereotyping" in Michigan's K-12 schools.

"It was brought to us by constituents who had raised concerns. Stories that had been shared with them by their students in public schools," State Rep. Andrew Beeler, a Republican from Fort Gratiot, said.

It's sparking outrage among Democrats who view it as a vehicle to remove the teaching of institutional racism or genocide, which many feel will handicap teachers.

Despite no mention of the phrase in the bill, it's bringing Michigan into the national conversation over Critical Race Theory, something that's been around since the 1970s but something experts say is not currently taught at the K-12 level.

It explores how justice, economic and other social systems play into institutional racism.

Recently, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, it's become a hot buzz phrase in a simmering national debate.

House Democratic Leader Rep. Donna Laskinski said the measure is "purely political shows being put on to feed red meat to a base that craves these kinds of items."

"It's scary for our children, it's scary for our country," Johnson added.

Beeler was the main sponsor of the bill and argues it seeks to avoid division in the classroom.

"I have yet to see what elements of this bill would restrict the teaching of history whatsoever," he said.

Before the bill becomes law, it would need to pass the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, and then be signed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which is unlikely.