William Clark, a high school student in Nevada, is suing his school for teaching critical race theory in the classroom, part of which asked students to label themselves as “privileged” or “oppressed” at one point.
Clark, a biracial student (half-black, half-white) in the senior class at the Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus falls under the “privileged” group according to classroom instruction.
In response to the curriculum, Clark decided to sue his school in federal court because he believes the teachings “violated his belief that all people are equal in the eyes of God,” according to the Washington Times.
“William Clark has suffered severe mental and emotional distress as a result of defendants’ actions and the hostile environment created by their official actions, all of which has negatively impacted his academic performance, personal relationships and future professional and academic prospects," the lawsuit against the charter school states. "He is in therapy addressing these harms."
The lawsuit also alleges that Clark's first amendment rights were violated because the school acted with “coercive and intrusive behavior.”
According to the Washington Times:
Some of William’s class assignments told students that “reverse racism is not real” and that “Racism = prejudice + power … Therefore, people of color CANNOT be racist.”
His teacher would greet the class by calling the students her “wonderful social justice warriors.”
William refused to do the course work and received a D- in the class, well below the grade needed to improve his chances of getting into college.
Critical race theory (CRT), which is designed to teach students that the American system of government is racist and geared to discriminate against "people of color," has become increasingly prominent in the U.S. in the last year. The theory has seen recent news coverage after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) publicly condemned its teaching in public schools.
The CRT class Clark was subjected to was formerly a civics course on democracy but was changed to a race-focused social justice class titled “Sociology of Change” based on lawyer and activist Kimberle Crenshaw’s teachings. Crenshaw currently teaches a critical race theory-based course on discrimination against minority women at Columbia University and the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA).
The school argued that the curriculum was a reasonable teaching method and therefore could not violate free speech.
The school defended its curriculum in a statement, saying that the class was appropriate for the school’s mission "to educate responsible citizen-scholars for success in the college of their choice and a life of active citizenship.”
“This coursework leads to students’ capstone Change the World project — an opportunity to put lessons about activism and community engagement into practice,” the school added.
The school’s court papers read, “Under Supreme Court precedent, the First Amendment affords educators broad discretion to set curriculum, and those decisions do not violate the First Amendment so long as the curriculum is ‘reasonably related to [a] legitimate pedagogical concern.’”
No resolution has been reached between the two parties and the case is expected to go to a jury trial.