WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A large crowd of protesters gathered outside of the New Hanover County Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening chanting “Protect trans kids,” and “We keep us safe” as well as “U.S.A.” It appeared several different groups were out protesting, including Lower Case Leaders who put out a call to action on social media to take a stand on protecting transgender student athletes. Some of the protesters were also there for and against the controversial Critical Race Theory.
While it was not on the board’s agenda, word spread quickly prior to the meeting that there would be an opportunity for the public to comment on the controversial concept. Critical Race Theory is an academic concept that was developed over 40 years ago. It teaches that racism is systemic and ingrained in society, institutions and laws.
Opponents believe it further divides students in the classroom.
“Dividing children by color and really by sexual orientation and they’re also teaching children that things that are inappropriate at different age groups,” said Elizabeth Kramer, an organizer of a grassroots movement that is not in favor of Critical Race Theory. “I don’t really believe that children need to be learning any of this– this stuff needs to be taught at home.”
Supporters believe it doesn’t sugar-coat history and provides a lesson to students about how racism has shaped this country.
“Critical race theory deals with the intersections of race and gender,” said Sara Valdez, a recent Hoggard High School graduate. “I’m really interested in the implementation of the Critical Race Theory learning. Throughout school I have always learned white-washed history. There was so much black history and African American history that I didn’t learn in school.”
Another supporter said she saw messages swirling on social media about the theory and that’s why she decided to come out.
“Messages In favor of teaching racism and transgender issues in schools… because I am in favor of it,” she said.
Administrators and board members say Critical Race Theory is not taught in New Hanover County Schools as its not part of the curriculum in North Carolina.
“The rising anger is palpable and we saw it this evening. We must clearly state accurate information about the lessons taught in our schools,” said board chair Stefanie Adams. “New Hanover County Schools follows the North Caorlina state standards and is not teaching critical race theories.”
Opponents, however, are not so sure.
“There’s a lot of people who say that but then there’s tentacles to this disguised as different things but it’s still under critical race theory,” said a protester against Critical Race Theory.
Others say it should be included in the county school’s curriculum.
“It needs to be implemented, it needs to be taught,” Valdez said. “People need to stop being racist, people need to unlearn racism. We just need to move forward.”
After chair Adams prefaced the public comment portion of the meeting that Critical Race Theory is not being taught in New Hanover County Schools, a long like of speakers addressed the board on the issue.. raising concerns on both sides.
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.