Commissioner Bull Connor directs the arrest of approximately 25 African American demonstrators in Birmingham, Ala. on April 10, 1963. Singer Al Hibbler who led the protest march, heads the line left background. Connor who directs the police department said Hibbler would not be taken into custody. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) Bull Connor, Al Hibbler
Commissioner Bull Connor directs the arrest of approximately 25 African American demonstrators in Birmingham, Ala. on April 10, 1963. Singer Al Hibbler who led the protest march, heads the line left background. Connor who directs the police department said Hibbler would not be taken into custody. (AP Photo/Horace Cort)

Pennsylvania state Republicans introduce bill to eliminate critical race theory from the state’s school curriculum.

A group of Pennsylvania Republicans want schools across the state to whitewash history.

State Reps. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) and Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) introduced HB 1532 to the PA House of Representatives in June. The bill, which they called the Teaching Racial and Universal Equality (TRUE) Act, aims to eliminate critical race theory from K-12 and college classrooms across the state. 

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical race theory is the study of racism and the role it played in shaping modern day America. 

Scholars developed it during the 1970s and 1980s in response to what they viewed as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.

For example, critical race theory involves teaching students about practices like “redlining.” In the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas that they deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial demographics of the residents and allowed banks to refuse to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas or to charge them high interest rates. 

Legislation to Ban Critical Race Theory in Schools

The Trump Administration initiated the ban against critical race theory in September 2020. Former President Donald Trump called it an “ideological poison that … will destroy our country,” sparking a nationwide debate. 

Republicans legislators in 26 states have proposed legislation that would ban critical race theory from our education system.

Six states already have laws that limit or ban the teaching of critical race theory in some way, according to a study conducted by Education Weekly. They are: Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Okhlahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. Republican legislators sponsored the legislation in each state.

What Would Pennsylvania’s Bill Change?

The bill proposed by Diamond and Gleim says K-12 schools must teach that “every individual is equal under the law and that no individual should ever be labeled superior or inferior simply due to their race or genetic makeup, nor be held responsible for actions taken by others with similar traits.” 

It would prohibit “the teaching, funding, or dissemination of racist and sexist concepts by the commonwealth and its political subdivisions, including public school districts and post-secondary schools.”

The following concepts that would be banned from K-12 and college classrooms are:

  • An individual should receive favorable treatment due to the individual’s race or sex
  • Meritocracy or merit-based systems are either racist or sexist
  • The United States of America or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are fundamentally racist or sexist

There is little to no evidence that critical race theory itself is being taught to K-12 public school students, though some ideas central to it, such as lingering consequences of slavery, have been. 

In fact, critical race theory isn’t mentioned in the state’s education standards

Pennsylvania Educators React to the Bill

Professors at prominent Pennsylvania colleges and universities said the bill was “incredible” — and not in a good way.

William Horne, professor at Villanova University, said in a twitter thread:

Jeffrey Sachs, a lecturer at Arcadia University, said:

Where Does the Bill Stand Now?

Sixteen Pennsylvania Republicans co-sponsored the bill. 

It is currently sitting in the state House education committee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Correction: This story was updated at 9:18 a.m. Friday, July 2, to correct the number of Republicans who have co-sponsored the bill.