South Dakota students are rising up. They want to learn the full history of their state and this country.
South Dakota students deserve the right to receive an equitable education where they can freely learn and talk about the history, experiences, and viewpoints of all marginalized communities in this country.
It's why the ACLU of South Dakota is opposed to bills like House Bill 1012 and House Bill 1337. But we’re not the only ones.
Read on to learn why students like Ally are voicing their opposition to bills that censor their education.
I oppose House Bill 1012 because it is an attack on all students’ rights to an inclusive and equitable education. This bill is meant to make our educators censor themselves and stifle our ability to learn about systemic racism and American history.
As a student coming from a very small high school in Ethan, S.D., coming to college has opened many doors for me and helped me grow personally and professionally. I was never really taught about different cultures or differences between people in society in my smaller school, but coming to college here and being exposed to so many different views has enhanced my education and helped me to feel more connected to other students no matter what background they come from.
Some of the most important things I have learned about American and world history have been about how the past affects the present. Even when it makes us uncomfortable, it is so important to learn about the history and the mistakes that our country has made so that we don’t continue to make them and we can move forward toward a place where all South Dakotans can thrive and feel like they belong.
I understand that you think this bill is here to protect me, but I’m an adult and I should be able to make a decision about my education on my own, without government interference. I don’t need this bill to protect me from the feelings that come up when I’m learning about some of the devastating events that have happened in our country’s history. I view discomfort as an opportunity for reflection and growth, and I believe that opening ourselves up to new perspectives and experiences is crucial for our development as critical thinkers.
Having the opportunity to learn and talk about the history and cultures of Indigenous communities, people of color, LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit folks, and other marginalized communities benefits all students. Studies show that equitable education can increase greater cultural understanding and awareness that helps to build empathy, affirm diversity, and foster greater connection between all students. Not being able to talk openly about racism hurts all students, but it is particularly harmful for students of color because it can be alienating and get in the way of their education.
We must acknowledge and teach about the value, cultures, histories, and modern-day contributions of all Americans, particularly of marginalized communities that are often the most invisible in many classrooms.