FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Kentucky Spokesperson Samuel Crankshaw regarding Governor Beshear's veto of Senate Bill 1, classroom censorship bill:
The ACLU of Kentucky applauds Governor Beshear's veto of Senate Bill 1. The governor has demonstrated his commitment to robust public education that allows students and teachers to have honest conversations about our nation's history and the real world around us. Like several other bills passed during the 2022 legislative session, Senate Bill 1 is a solution in search of a non-existent problem. If enacted into law, it would impair our students’ ability to engage with and understand the world in which they exist.
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 would 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 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 would not only censor students and teachers, but would 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 listened to 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 wrote to Governor Beshear urging him to veto Senate Bill 1.
We strongly urge all concerned Kentuckians to contact lawmakers and ask them to uphold Governor Beshear's veto. The General Assembly will have the chance to override vetoes on April 13 and 14. Lawmakers can override a veto with only a constitutional majority.
The classroom censorship provisions in Senate Bill 1 were originally within Senate Bill 138. Lawmakers amended SB1 to include these provisions, skirting a complete legislative process and public engagement.