A Tennessee bill that would, among other things, mandate that public universities stop teaching “divisive concepts” to students will be voted upon next week.
“I believe the bill will pass,” the bill’s Sponsor State Senator Mike Bell (R-Athens) told The Tennessee Star Tuesday. “It was rolled last night only because the house had added an amendment and I needed a little more time to consider whether to accept the House amendment or to go forward with the Senate version.”
The bill was scheduled to be voted upon Monday, but the vote was pushed back.
The “divisive concepts” that would be outlawed are defined in SB 2290’s summary.
They include teaching concepts that “promotes division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people,” and teaching concepts that “ascribes character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex.”
The bill also addresses hiring practices in Tennessee’s public universities.
“A student or employee of a public institution of higher education must not be penalized, discriminated against, or receive any adverse treatment due to the student’s or employee’s refusal to support, believe, endorse, embrace, confess, act upon, or otherwise assent to one or more divisive concepts,” the summary says.
It also mandates that public universities may not discriminate in hiring, promoting or tenuring faculty and staff based on the political ideologies of the employee.
The bill is also about transparency and aims to make public the ideological leanings of public universities, which almost always lean politically leftward.
According to the summary, it “requires each institution to conduct a survey of its students and employees to assess the campus climate with regard to diversity of thought and the respondents’ comfort level in speaking freely on campus and to publish the results on the institution’s website.”
The effort to combat such “divisive concepts,” which can be defined loosely as Critical Race Theory (CRT), has been intense.
CRT teaches every subject through the lens of racial and sexual oppression.
A similar bill was just approved in the Georgia State Senate, but only applies to kindergarten through high school students and does not rise to the university level.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].