Story at a glance
- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Thursday signed into law measures to restrict classroom instruction related to so-called “divisive concepts” and prevent transgender athletes from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity.
- The “Protect Students First Act” limits the way teachers in the state may approach “divisive concepts,” including race and that the U.S. is “fundamentally racist,” with their students.
- Another measure signed into law Thursday creates a “Parent’s Bill of Rights” and a third opens school board meetings up to the public.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Thursday signed into law legislation curbing talk of so-called “divisive concepts” in the state’s classrooms and barring transgender athletes from participating on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity. Another measure creates a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” granting parents greater authority to review instructional materials.
During a signing ceremony Thursday at Forsyth County Arts and Learning Center, Kemp said House Bill 1084, which is officially titled the “Protect Students First Act,” ensures that “academic freedom” is protected in Georgia schools. The law heavily restricts how educators may approach “divisive concepts,” including race and that the U.S. is “fundamentally racist,” with their students.
“It ensures all of our state and nation’s history is taught accurately – because here in Georgia, our classrooms will not be pawns of those who want to indoctrinate our kids with their partisan political agendas,” Kemp said Thursday.
The same measure creates a 10-member oversight committee to determine whether transgender students in Georgia may compete on sports teams that match their gender identity, which Kemp said will “protect fairness in school sports.”
“As the parents of three daughters, Marty and I want every young girl in this state to have every opportunity to succeed in the sport they love,” Kemp said. “That should not be controversial.”
The LGBTQ+ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on Thursday called Kemp’s action a “crass political maneuver” that is sure to harm the state’s transgender youth.
“The bill’s attacks on gender and race are fundamentally arbitrary and not a legitimate legal basis for discrimination,” HRC Georgia State Director Dewayne Johnson said in a statement. “The governor and legislative leaders are continually creating these false dilemmas that fail to connect with the real issues faced by everyday Georgians. Transgender kids are not creating problems by participating in school sports.”
Others have disagreed, asserting that transgender women and girls in particular are ripping athletic opportunities away from cisgender female athletes. Legislators nationwide have introduced similar measures, with varying levels of success.
Tennessee late last week added harsher penalties to the state’s existing transgender athlete ban, while the Kansas legislature on Thursday sustained the governor’s veto of legislation to bar transgender athletes from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.
Kemp on Thursday also signed into law House Bill 1178, which creates a “Parent’s Bill of Rights” that, among other things, allows parents of elementary and high school students to review and challenge classroom learning materials.
The measure “protects the fundamental right of moms and dads across this state to direct the education of their child,” the governor said Thursday.
A third bill signed into law Thursday opens all local board of education meetings to the public, ensuring that “every parent knows how their child’s education is being discussed and decided,” Kemp said.