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Mead School District to consider banning critical race theory, gender identity books

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Rebecca White
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A community member urges school board members to not adopt a proposal banning critical race theory from Mead School District.

Proponents say the proposal is designed to protect children. Opponents say it is censorship.

The Mead School Board is considering a policy to remove library books that feature gender identity from elementary school libraries, and ban critical race theory discussions in all schools.

Critical race theory is a college level academic framework that examines systemic racism. It is not taught in public K-12 schools. According to a proposal sponsored by board member Michael Cannon, that would mean divisive concepts that make children feel anguish on account of their race or sex cannot be taught.

That proposal, along with a second policy to remove any books that mention gender identity from elementary school libraries, has been condemned by the leader of the Spokane NAACP as well as many educators from across the region.

They said both proposals are censorship, and make it difficult for teachers to do their jobs. They also argue the general identity proposal violates state law. In Washington both sexuality and gender identity are protected classes.

Proponents, which include some parents, say the bans protect children from age inappropriate materials, as well as racism.

The proposal, is similar to critical race theory and gender policies proposed in many legislatures across the country, as well as an executive order issued by former President Donald Trump in 2020.

The policies were briefed in a packed school board meeting Monday, where most public commenters opposed it, but likely will not be voted on for several weeks.