State Senate to vote on bill banning 'divisive concepts' taught at public colleges, universities

Tennessee State Capitol Dome.jpeg
Posted at 7:39 AM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 08:39:36-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A bill that could change what's being taught at Tennessee's public colleges and universities heads for a full Senate vote on Monday.

The bill would make it against the law for students in public universities to have to agree with what the state legislature deems are "divisive concepts" in order to receive a better grade.

Some examples lawmakers gave of what they call a "divisive concept" would be that one race or sex is superior or inferior to another or that someone’s race or sex is a determining factor in an individual's moral character.

Lawmakers say the bill as written would not specifically ban the teaching of so-called Critical Race Theory, as long as students were free to disagree with it without fear of being penalized in the class.

The bill's sponsor Rep. Ron Gant, R-Piperton, says the bill puts up the necessary guardrails to ensure diversity efforts don't become divisive efforts. This bill will even give students the option to sue the school if they think part of the proposed law had been violated.

"While we believe that public college students and employees should be able to decide what topics they wish to engage in, we maintain it should be just that, a decision. This bill takes aim at any mandated injection of adherence to these divisive concepts as a prerequisite to graduation, promotion, tenure, or to be hired,” said Rep. Gant. "The divisive concepts we are seeking to address may seem similar, familiar to you, these are the same concepts defined in public chapter 493 passed last year which prohibited from inclusion in K through 12 curriculum."

Democrats have raised concerns about the law, saying they want to make sure the truth is still being taught.

The bill is on the Senate's calendar Monday, and it's already passed the House. If it passes, it'll go to the governor's desk.