A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gay Adelmann: Two bills being considered by the Ky. House dismiss state’s most marginalized students


The truth is not always comfortable to hear. Those who are in a position to do so may simply refuse to participate in uncomfortable conversations. Others may even go so far as to prohibit the teaching of information that they consider “divisive,” simply because it makes them or others like them uncomfortable.

However, this is a privilege that is not afforded to everyone, and especially not our Kentucky families whose lived experiences do not align with what is currently taught in our public schools. Furthermore, schools that refuse to embrace concepts of equity, diversity and inclusion, add to the trauma many students who feel bullied, isolated and even abused experience, simply for being their best selves.

Gay Adelmann

And now, a disinformation campaign that favors the feelings of the privileged few, while dismissing the lived experiences of our most marginalized students, is sweeping the nation. Some lawmakers, who want to take this imbalance of representation in our classrooms even further, have proposed wasteful, unconstitutional legislation that would ban the teaching of accurate history in our public schools altogether.

In so doing, they are the ones actually spreading hate and fear, the very things they claim their bills would prevent. A quick check of the demographics of those who favor this antiquated legislation are mostly white, while the majority of stakeholders in JCPS, a district that is mostly non-white, oppose it. Clearly, those who call the teaching of concepts related to equity, diversity and inclusion “divisive” or even “discriminatory” are the ones who benefit the most by rejecting these truths in favor of maintaining the status quo.

Our state’s classroom curriculum, activities and textbooks are already slanted in a way that mostly white, mostly straight, mostly Christian men’s perspectives dominate. By specifically targeting topics related to race, sex and religion, this legislation would put a chill on any efforts to encourage critical thinking around the roles these factors may have played in our nation’s history and would set the stage for making some of the same horrific and avoidable mistakes all over again.

For years, grassroots organizations, educators, parents/guardians and students have been raising the very REAL concerns that our lawmakers must address in our public schools, NOT more tilting at windmills, NOT creating witch hunts to go after our best teachers, and NOT coming up with more reasons to choke out what last breaths our public schools and teachers have left in them.

The proposed bills would ban teachers from teaching (and prevent students from learning!) accurate history, and due to their emergency provision, would wreak havoc immediately in districts with diverse populations. These proposed laws are unnecessary, unconstitutional, and would unfairly and unjustly tie the hands of more diverse districts such as Jefferson and Fayette County, and wind up wasting more precious time and resources that our students and schools do not have.

Former President Eisenhower’s quote, which is inscribed on the wall of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, reminds us:

“I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things, if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda.”

Kentucky’s General Assembly began this week. The two bills that would suppress the teaching of our nation’s collective truths, no matter how well-intentioned, are expected to move quickly. We must demand our lawmakers STOP HB14 and HB18 before they go any further. Instead, they should SUPPORT HB67 and HB88, which would require the teaching of the rich, accurate history of racism in our country and state, regardless how uncomfortable it makes us feel, and strengthen site-based decision making councils, not weaken them as SB1 attempts to do.

The future of our humanity depends on it.

Gay Adelmann is co-founder of Dear JCPS and Save Our Schools Kentucky. She has also been a board member for the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression since 2020 and is a 2014 GCIPL Fellow.


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3 Comments

  1. M lope says:

    Omg,history is about reality no matter the issues or injustices this is not let’s pretend it didn’t happen and let’s play dress up dolls! What the world has happened to living reality again no matter what the injustices and there were many! Teach the truth the real truth not your versions of what could make people feel better! History is already known, is your next step removing that curriculum all together? Im flabbergasted!

  2. Richard says:

    HB18 was withdrawn. As to HB14, I am including the beef of the bill below. These seem like common sense and fair rules to me. It would apply to both far left and far right ideology. I would assume most Kentuckians are fine with the history of Jim Crow and slavery being taught. They just don’t want to be blamed for the actions of ancestors, asked to pay reparations or told that they are unconsciously racist.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————————-
    A local board of education, school council, or public charter school shall not include or promote any of the following concepts as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or
    allow a school council, teacher, or other employee of the school district or public charter school to use supplemental instructional materials that include or promote any of the following concepts:

    1. One (1) race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
    2. An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist,
    sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
    3. An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse
    treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;
    4. Members of one (1) race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat
    others without respect to race or sex;
    5. An individual’s moral character is determined by his or her race or
    sex;
    6. An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility
    for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race
    or sex;
    7. An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form
    of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex;
    8. Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or
    were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of
    another race;
    9. The Commonwealth or the United States is fundamentally or
    irredeemably racist or sexist;
    10. Values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs can be assigned to
    a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual’s race or
    sex;
    11. Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government; or oromoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people.

  3. John Stephenson says:

    I will not attempt to answer all the questions you have asked in your article in the limited space I am given.
    If you or the readers are interested they can go to my Facebook pages or my YouTube site under Travels Dr John Stephenson Former Superintendent of Education for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
    While I can tell by your writing you are very intelligent and truly want to help the teachers and the schools present a quality education. However, the first job of a teacher is to do no harm. What you want do is more in line with your own private school and if that is your desire then I support your right to do so. However, not in the public schools. Teach the truth within the Constitutional guidelines and the History as recorded. Love and Godly Principles for all students red,yellow, brown, black, and white, born and unborn children and seniors unique and diverse police officers and first responders and teachers and students and preachers and priest and FARMER’S and CITY folks and SOLDIERS and GOVERNMENT SERVANTS and WORKERS and OWNERS and Doctors and Nurses and staff and all of God’s children for they are all precious in Jesus SIGHT..I happen to have taught the first black History taught at the University of Kentucky in my Student teaching curriculum at Jessamine County High school and in 1970 at Erlanger/Elsmere System and at 78 one thing I can tell you is we do not need to let politics of Saul Alinsky RADICALIZATION tactics creep into our public school systems. Love you, but your ideas I believe are best in the private school setting. What we need is love for all in the public schools.

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