Teachers plan to file lawsuit over Georgia’s ‘Divisive Concepts’ law

Teachers plan to file lawsuit over Georgia’s ‘Divisive Concepts’ law
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 5:48 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A law that changed the way your child learns about race and racism in school could soon face a legal challenge.

Craig Goodmark, an attorney for the Georgia Association of Educators, says teachers are working in fear of losing their jobs over the state’s new Divisive Concepts Law.

“The law as it’s written is very difficult to understand. Educators across the state are explaining they don’t know what is prohibited, what is allowed,” said Goodmark, network attorney for the Georgia Association of Educators.

The Divisive Concepts law bans “divisive concepts,” including any lessons that Georgia or the United States are racist, from being taught in Georgia schools. The legislation says educators can’t teach students that an individual, by virtue of his or her race, is inherently or consciously racist or oppressive toward individuals of other races. It also prohibits teaching students that an individual should feel anguish, guilt, or any other form of psychological distress solely by virtue of his or her race.

Supporters of the law say it gives parents more control over their child’s education. Critics say it whitewashes our nation’s history.

A lawsuit set to be formally filed in the coming weeks, alleges the Georgia law violates the first and 14th amendments of students and claims it is attempting to censor classroom discussions.

“It’s just simply bad for public education in Georgia. It’s bad for teachers. And ultimately, it’s going to be bad for those students,” said Goodmark.

In a statement to Atlanta News First, a spokesperson for Governor Kemp’s office says his office is aware of this notice of intent and is reviewing it.

Georgia is not alone. 17 other states in recent years have enacted similar restrictions, with a handful also being met with litigation from teachers’ unions and civil rights groups.

“The ability to follow that precedent is somewhat limited, because all the state laws were written differently, and our Georgia law is different from the Oklahoma law, or the Florida law. But certainly, will be using those cases as some guidance, but this case will stand on its own,” said Goodmark.

So far, only one lawsuit, a case in Arizona, has been successful in striking down a state law.