Republican State Senator Revives Bill Modeled On Trump Executive Order Against Bias Training

Apr 6, 2021

Credit Serge Melki

Oklahoma Republican lawmakers again resurrect a controversial bill that appeared done for the session.

Sen. David Bullard (R-Durant) in committee on Tuesday amended a House bill on emergency plans for athletics events to bring back a Senate bill to ban the teaching of "divisive concepts," a push back against analyzing issues like systemic racism.

The language in House Bill 1775 is copied from an executive order then-President Trump issued in 2020 as he railed against political correctness and Black Lives Matter protesters. It sought to ban certain diversity training on racial and gender biases.

Bullard claimed Oklahoma students are being harmed by teaching on such subjects, but he declined to specify any districts when asked by fellow teachers on the committee, including Sen. Carri Hicks (D-Oklahoma City).

"So, do you have evidence that this is actually happening in the metro schools that I represent?" Hicks said.

"I’m not really actually all that familiar with the schools, all the schools that you represent, but they are happening. This is just coming from parents around the state who have contacted me about this," Bullard said.

J.J. Dossett (D-Owasso), also a former teacher, told Bullard he does not believe that’s happening.

"This reeks of something that’s not local. This reeks of something that is far away and that we do not need to be addressing in this building," Dossett said.

Dossett said he also has reservations about interfering with school boards’ local control.

Bullard said sometimes dictating terms is appropriate.

"If we’re going to say that local control is local control, then we got a lot of things we control in this building that are pushing against local control. For example, we say that a teacher is not allowed to have a relationship with a student outside of the classroom," Bullard said.

The amended HB1775 passed the Senate Education Committee 7–4, with Sen. Tom Dugger (R-Stillwater) joining Democratic members in voting against it.