A petition calling for a change in the way that anti-racism is taught in schools has attracted more than 1,000 signatures in 24 hours.
Brighton community activist Adrian Hart set up the petition on Change.org under the auspices of the anti-racist organisation Don’t Divide Us.
The petition is headed: “Stop the council teaching our kids that they are racists or victims of their classmates.”
The text of the petition says: “Brighton and Hove is an anti-racist city. We are proud to live in a city where racist violence and abuse is a rarity.
“Which is why we are shocked by the council’s decision to promote a racially divisive policy throughout Brighton’s schools.
“Brighton and Hove City Council has begun to educate governors, heads, staff, parents and even pupils based on their race.
“White children will be taught that they are ‘privileged’ while non-white children will be taught that they are victims of their white classmates.
“This warped ideology is known as ‘Critical Race Theory’ (CRT). The council is urging schools to take their ‘racial literacy’ training without consulting the public.
“It refuses requests made under the Freedom of Information Act to view the training materials, claiming that this violates the ‘commercial interests’ of the training providers.
“The council’s ‘Anti-Racist Schools Strategy’ document identifies citizens with an ethical objection to CRT, including ‘some BAME parents’, as ‘potential barriers to implementation’.
“To describe dissenting views in this way while favouring commercial interests is patronising and anti-democratic.
“We are calling on Brighton and Hove council to
- consult widely with citizens about the decision to adopt CRT as a defining framework for the council’s work, taking particular care to seek the opinions of parents given the statement by the Minister for Women and Equalities making it clear that CRT should not be taught in schools as fact
- be transparent about its anti-racist training by publishing a full exposition of its content for public scrutiny and comment
- show evidence to residents that, as a public authority, its actions in schools are lawful in relation to the Education Act 1996 (sections 406 and 407), section 78 of the Education Act 2002 and the Public Sector Equality Duty (section 149 1c) ‘the duty to foster good relations between groups’
“Our children should be taught in a politically neutral sphere in which they learn how to think as opposed to what to think.
“We must not be divided – by reactionary racists or culture warriors – who refuse to see us as individuals beyond our skin colour.”
Mr Hart addressed councillors about its anti-racism strategy twice last week, calling for a liberal approach to the subject.
In the past Mr Hart has worked as an anti-racism campaigner with East London Workers Against Racism and created an anti-racism film for Essex schools with children and young people.
He backed the government’s Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch’s comments made last autumn when she said: “We do not want to see teachers teaching their pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt.
“Any school which teaches these elements of critical race theory, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law.”
A House of Commons Education Committee report published yesterday (Tuesday 22 June) said that using terms such as “white privilege” may have contributed towards systemic neglect of white disadvantaged communities.
Green councillor Hannah Clare, who chairs the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, said last week: “Critical race theory is our lens for developing our understanding of the complexities of racism – and not an ideology.
“There is nothing in our strategy that aims to engender guilt or victimhood – and the development of critical thinking skills is one element of our educational output.”
And Green councillor Steph Powell, who chairs the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, said last Thursday (17 June) that the council believed that racism was not just a product of individual bias or prejudice but embedded within “the system”.
Councillors Powell said: “We accept as a council we have a lot to learn and the approval of the council’s anti-racism strategy is just the starting point.
“We believe that open communication about race and ethnicity and listening to residents and lived experiences is absolutely key.”
She added that although racial violence and abuse incidents have decreased significantly in the past 20 to 30 years, they still occurred in Brighton and Hove.
If the petition attracts more than 1,250 signatures, it qualifies to go before the full council for debate. The next meeting of the full council meeting is on Thursday 15 July.
To sign the petition, click here.
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