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Lawmakers propose sweeping bill to regulate what schools and businesses can teach and discuss

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 8:10 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2021 at 8:44 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Three House Republicans are proposing a sweeping bill that would change what entities, including schools and private businesses, can teach and discuss.

H. 4605, also known as “Freedom from ideological coercion and indoctrination,” would regulate what goes on at any entity that receives state funding, grants, or tax exemptions, including public and private schools, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, state contractors, and private businesses.

Reps. Lin Bennett, R-Charleston, Mike Burns, R-Greenville, and Cal Forrest, R-Saluda, are sponsoring the pre-filed bill, which will officially be introduced when lawmakers return to Columbia in January for their regular legislative session.

The bill would prohibit entities like schools from teaching “discriminatory concepts,” such as that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race, sex, ethnicity, or heritage, bears responsibility, or must confess or atone for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, sex, or ethnic group” and that they “should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of his or her race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, heritage, culture, religion, or political belief.”

These are concepts typically tied to Critical Race Theory, which the state Department of Education has said is not taught in South Carolina schools.

The bill would also ban these entities from compelling students or employees to accept, affirm, adopt, or adhere to “controversial and theoretical concepts,” including the existence of genders other than male or female, nonbinary pronouns, implicit bias, and that race and sex are social constructs.

It would prevent schools from teaching students under 18 about sexual lifestyles, acts, or practices; gender identity or lifestyles; and pornographic, lewd, explicit, profane, or similarly age‑inappropriate materials, or instructing in ways that “repeatedly distorts or misrepresents verifiable historical facts,” “omits relevant and important context,” or “interjects the instructor’s personal views,” among other regulations.

Schools, businesses, and entities in violation would lose their state funding or tax exemptions until the Attorney General determines they are in compliance, and the bill outlines that the Attorney General’s office would have to set up a phone and email hotline to take complaints about potential violations to investigate.

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