Teachers group calls for Gov. Cox to veto bill over classroom instruction of race, gender, sexual orientation

Mar 7, 2023, 6:30 PM

utah education foundation...

FILE - Utah Education Association has voted unanimously to oppose a ballot measure in November that could change how education is funded.

SALT LAKE CITY — The state’s largest teacher group, the Utah Education Association, is asking Gov. Spencer Cox to veto a bill that deals with classroom instruction on race, religion and sexual orientation.

In a letter they sent to Gov. Cox, they say it “perpetuates the myth that Utah educators and public schools ‘indoctrinate’ students.”

The bill is HB427. It requires classroom instruction to be “consistent with certain principals of inalienable rights, equal opportunity, and individual merit.”

The bill says those rights include that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions that other members of the same race or sex committed in the past; and that an individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race.” 

Such classroom instruction could put careers at risk

The UEA argues that the bills language is “too broad and undefined,” and say classroom discussions and materials will be left to “interpretation of parents and administrators, placing teachers in an untenable position that potentially risks their career.”

During the Senate debate in the legislature, sponsor Sen. Mike Kennedy (R-Alpine) said the words in the bill are enshrined in the country’s founding documents. He said he “stands by the words” especially when it comes to children.

“With all people, we should teach them with respect and equality, and if we’re already doing that, and we adhere to those concepts, why is there such offence and consternation about putting that in state code?”

The UEA’s letter argues the bill requires teaching “identified principals of Critical Race Theory” which the legislature has taken steps to prohibit from Utah schools. They also say it “undermines trust in public education.”

Possible veto?

KSL NewsRadio asked Gov. Cox about some teachers concerns over this bill on the last day of the legislative session Friday, before UEA’s call for a veto. Specifically, he was asked about teachers concerns the bill was “too vague” with what they could or couldn’t teach.

“I think vague is the key question there,” he said.

He also said this bill was one of the many school curriculum bills where he’s been told many of the concerns had been addressed with the education community.

“That’s what I’ve been told. That those changes happened, significant changes to where the education community mostly feels they’re okay with it.”

As for a potential veto, the Governor said, “There’s always a chance. I need to look at it closely, but my intention right now is not to.”

Today, the Governor’s office says he’s still reviewing hundreds of bills and isn’t commenting on specific bills at this point.


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Teachers group calls for Gov. Cox to veto bill over classroom instruction of race, gender, sexual orientation