‘You Can’t Just Ignore’: Student Speaks Out After Board Passes Guidelines For Teaching Race, Gender Studies In Schools

Monday, July 12th 2021, 4:50 pm


An Oklahoma student spoke out after the state Board of Education approved recommendations for House Bill 1775. The bill, now a law, prevents Oklahoma schools from teaching certain topics. 

Sapphire Lloyd, a junior at Millwood High School, said the new law silences voices and glazes over important parts of American history.

"You can't just ignore, no matter how horrific, ugly, horrifying it may be at the end of the day. It still needs to be talked about, and it still needs to be acknowledged,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd took to the podium before the Board of Education's vote on the HB 1775 emergency guidelines. 

The law went into effect on July 1, forcing the state Board of Education to put guidelines in place for the school year ahead. 

Members passed the state's recommendations on how to enforce the teaching of race and gender studies in the classroom. The guidelines include rules like not using funds on diversity trainings or classes, no mandated diversity classes, and says that no educator can make students feel discriminated against, which Lloyd said isn't an issue when talking about race.

"That law is insinuating that people are telling these children, ‘Hey you're an oppressor,’ when you're just teaching children. You're just having an open conversation," Lloyd said. "No teacher is looking at a child when discussing racism or anything like that and being like, 'Oh, just because you're white you're automatically an oppressor and you're evil.'" 

Just one Board of Education member voted against the guidelines. That member said the law's recommendations stifle important conversations.

"In school is the best place that you can first learn how to be comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations," Lloyd said. “It's not racist for you to point out my struggle. It's not racist to try to sympathize with me. I'm human. My life matters. My story matters. My people's story matters, and it should be told in all of its glory and all of its beauty."

The emergency recommendations passed are not permanent. Board of Education members will have to meet again to write the permanent guidelines.

That could happen sometime in the fall.


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