FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Kentucky Spokesperson Samuel Crankshaw regarding new law to censor discussions between teachers and students:
The Kentucky General Assembly today voted to override Governor Beshear’s veto of Senate Bill 1, a bill to censor discussions between teachers and students and hold teachers criminally liable for any violations. Like several other bills passed during the 2022 legislative session, Senate Bill 1 is a solution in search of a non-existent problem. It will impair students’ ability to engage with and understand the world in which they exist, and will create a culture of fear in the classroom.
Bills like SB1 are part of a nationwide strategy to whitewash history, perpetuate white supremacy, and erase marginalized people – particularly people of color and LGBTQ people. They also deny educators and students their First Amendment right to free speech.
Proponents of bills like SB1 say they want to instill patriotic values in our students, but this legislation could not be any less patriotic. There is a lot of good in our nation’s history, but there are also the ugly facts of slavery, white supremacy, worker exploitation, homophobia, sexism, and more. Honest patriotism would engage with our past so students could have a legitimate chance to learn from our collective harms and how those harms influence life today. Honest patriotism would seek a shared and truthful understanding of our past so we could all continue striving to create a more perfect union.
SB1 references the history of slavery and racial segregation in our country, but denies the opportunity for teachers and students to explore how this history has defined our current understanding of race and its continued effects on society. America has existed longer with slavery than without it. The impacts of that cannot be overstated and must be understood.
Senate Bill 1 will not only censor students and teachers, but will also dictate which materials teachers use to cover history. As Governor Beshear noted in his veto message, "these texts were not selected by historians or scholars, but by a political body." One of the required texts is Ronald Reagan's 1964 political campaign speech "A Time For Choosing."
We wrote to lawmakers to share our concerns and they heard testimony from several students and educators who shared their strong opposition to this legislation, but the Kentucky General Assembly proceeded down the path of censorship. After final passage out of the General Assembly, we also wrote to Governor Beshear urging him to veto Senate Bill 1.
Despite this new law from the adults in the Kentucky General Assembly, we know Kentucky’s children will make our commonwealth’s future bright – and these young Kentuckians proved it when they showed up in Frankfort to speak with lawmakers and fight for their right to learn and exercise free speech. To those young people: We stand by you and will never stop fighting for your right to learn freely.