How HB 1775 Affects Teachings in Public Schools

House Bill 1775 is an Oklahoma law that was passed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in May 2021 that prohibits eight concepts to be taught in public schools. The bill has caused controversy over which books teachers and administrators are allowed to teach to students. Although the bill does not specifically ban any books, the bill does allow teachers to self-censor the books that students can access.

The eight concepts that are prohibited to be taught are:

  1. One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
  2. An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  3. An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
  4. Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.
  5. An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.
  6. An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for action committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  7. Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form or psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.
  8. Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.

The bill also says that parents and legal guardians of students enrolled in public schools in Oklahoma have the right to inspect curriculum, instructional materials, classroom assignments, and lesson plans in compliance with 70 O.S. §24-157(B). No public school shall interfere with or infringe upon the fundamental rights of parents to determine their child’s education.

Since this bill allows parents and guardians to also have a say in what is being taught to their children, it could lead to more censorship in the classroom and could possibly lead to more restrictions on a child’s education and the concepts they learn.

Though, this bill was not intended to restrict children’s learning. It was intended to restrict the teaching of critical race theory. In a video that Gov. Stitt posted on Twitter on May 7, 2021, he said that “As governor, I firmly believe that not one cent of taxpayer money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans about their race or sex.”

In fact, the author of the bill, Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, said that the bill will not prevent teachers from teaching history or anything currently in Oklahoma’s education standards.

However, many educators and future educators have spoken out against the bill.

Sydney Graves, a future educator who is currently wanting to teach English at the secondary school level, believes that HB 1775 will affect her curriculum making her have to “walk on eggshells.”

“I think House Bill 1775, while it’s written from a place of not wanting to include indoctrination in the classroom, which I think is a good thing, I think it’s going to make my job a little bit harder,” Graves said. “I’m going to have to make sure that exactly what I’m saying can never be misconstrued.”

As for parents and guardians being able to speak out against the curriculum that is being taught to their children, Graves said that “we need to look at what we’re not wanting to teach our kids.” Graves said that it is important for educators and parents to communicate with one another so educators can understand why parents and guardians do not want certain things to be taught to their children. But she also said that communication is important so parents can understand why certain things are being taught.

From a personal standpoint, Graves believes that the bill had good intentions, but went about it wrongly.

“From what we’ve seen so far, it doesn’t look like it’s being interpreted in the best way possible and that’s for the benefit of the students,” Graves said.

Graves also jokingly said that if teachers were to truly indoctrinate students, they would “indoctrinate them to actually show up, or turn things in on time, or bring a pencil to class.”

For those who want to read about HB 1775 more in depth, please visit this link for the entire bill.