Today, the Senate Education Committee debated two bills dealing with classroom censorship, advancing House Bill 1012 and postponing opposition testimony and discussion of House Bill 1337 to Thursday.
The ACLU of South Dakota opposes both bills.
“The First Amendment protects academic freedom and the right to share ideas, including the right of individuals to receive information and knowledge. By advancing House Bill 1012, that’s threatened,” said Candi Brings Plenty, ACLU of South Dakota Indigenous justice organizer. “It’s disappointing that some of our elected officials think that restrictions on honest discussions about race and government will prevent the political indoctrination of students or that educators are teaching about these topics in ways that sow division among students
House Bill 1012 is poorly written and lacks clarity, opening the door for a wide range of interpretations that could be used to chill free speech and academic freedom, discouraging open and honest discussions about systemic racism in classrooms and in school communities.
“Many will interpret House Bill 1012 to be a ban on discussing these issues in the classroom at all,” Brings Plenty said. “That’s censorship, pure and simple.”
About the ACLU of South Dakota
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.
The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.