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Is Asking Teachers Not To Bully Their Students Religious Discrimination?
The Federalist sure thinks so!
What would you say if I told you that the state of Minnesota was banning all Christians, Jews and Muslims from working as public school teachers? I can't be sure, but I certainly would hope it would be "That is obviously not true. What are you even talking about?" But that's why you're here and not over at The Federalist, which recently ran an article headlined, in all seriousness, "Minnesota Poised To Ban Christians, Muslims, And Jews From Teaching In Public Schools."
You can probably guess where this is going, but just in case you can't — the op-ed, written by professional annoying person Joy Pullman, is about new rules requiring that teachers must agree to treat trans students, non-binary students and students of color with a modicum of respect in order to be licensed in the state, along with other regulations aimed at making schools a welcoming, inclusive space for every student. Pullman's claim is that doing this would require that teachers violate their own religions, all of which she believes explicitly forbid acceptance of "transgender ideology" and "critical race theory."
Minnesota will soon ban faithful Christians, Muslims, and Jews from teaching in public schools by requiring that every state-certified teacher “fosters an environment that ensures student identities such as … gender identity … are … affirmed.” Once the new requirements clear a final procedural hurdle, they will be immediately challenged in state and possibly federal court, a civil liberties lawyer told The Federalist on Tuesday.
“We have lots of parents who are upset by this sort of thing in schools already,” said Doug Seaton, president of Minnesota’s Upper Midwest Law Center, in an interview. “They’re going to be even more upset with how their teachers are going to be licensed. Their teachers are going to have to be faced with hiding their beliefs or getting denied [for a state teaching license].”
Seaton said it was accurate to describe the nearly finalized regulations as communicating: “Christians, Muslims, and Jews need not apply for Minnesota teaching jobs.” That is unconstitutional, he said, so UMLC plans to sue once the changes go into effect.
That will likely come as quite a surprise to the many Christians, Jews and Muslims who are not, in fact, transphobic bigots.
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Conservatives frequently argue that transgender people largely did not exist until a few years ago (which, obviously, is untrue), so it is very curious that Joy Pullman also argues that three very old religions have incredibly strict rules about how adherents are supposed to treat them.
To be fair, I can think of at least one woman who was indeed burned alive for "blaspheming" by wearing men's clothes. Though if I recall correctly, she was later canonized as a literal Saint . In fact, there were multiple Saints who were assigned female at birth but who lived out their lives as men — plus one story of God granting a sex change (or at least a beard).
But back to our gal Joy. Let's take a look at the parts of the new requirements that she finds particularly offensive.
Standard 2D requires that a licensed teacher “fosters an environment that ensures student identities such as race/ethnicity … sex and gender, gender identity, sexual orientation … are historically and socially contextualized, affirmed, and incorporated into a learning environment where students are empowered to learn…”
And without her carefully placed ellipses?
The teacher fosters an environment that ensures student identities such as race/ethnicity, national origin, language, sex and gender, gender identity, sexual orientation,physical/developmental/emotional ability, socioeconomic class, and religious beliefsare historically and socially contextualized, affirmed, and incorporated into a learning environment where students are empowered to learnand contribute as their whole selves.
Gee, wonder why she left those particular parts out?
She's also very upset about Standard 2F.
The teacher communicates verbally and nonverbally in ways that demonstrate respect for and responsiveness to the cultural backgrounds and differing perspectives learners bring to the learning environment.
Yes, that does seem like an incredible nightmare — though not quite as bad as the horrors of admitting racism exists and is harmful:
Standards 6, A-G require teachers to agree that the taxpayers supplying their salaries and the people who created the school system that will employ them are racists, and affirm other cultural Marxist beliefs. For example, Standard 6C requires that “The teacher understands the historical foundations of education in Minnesota … that have and continue to create inequitable opportunities, experiences, and outcomes for learners … especially for … students historically denied access, underserved, or underrepresented on the basis of race … gender, sexual orientation.”
Once again, the ellipses are doing a lot of very interesting work here, as the original reads:
The teacher understands the historical foundations of education in Minnesota, including laws, policies, and practices, that have and continue to create inequitable opportunities, experiences, and outcomes for learners, especially forIndigenous students andstudents historically denied access, underserved, or underrepresented on the basis of race,class, disability, religion, gender, sexual orientation,language, socioeconomic status, or country of origin.
It's almost as if these standards are in fact meant to cover all bases and ensure that all students feel welcomed and supported and Joy Pullman is trying to insinuate that it's just students of color and LGBTQ students who'll receive some form of special treatment.
What really pushes Pullman off the deep end, however, is a section saying that teachers should help students achieve their goals by "choosing anti-racist, culturally relevant, and responsive instructional strategies, accommodations, and resources to differentiate instruction for individuals and groups of learners" and pulling material from a wide variety of sources and include marginalized voices that have been historically overlooked in the classroom.
The standards also require teachers to instruct their students in critical race theory, in mandates that teachers promote “anti-racism” and “equity.” Those two terms are defined by their advocates to mean instituting structural racism against people with comparatively lighter skin and using skin color to judge people’s merit and performance.
Really? That's how their "advocates" define them? Are these "advocates" in the room with her right now?
These are the standards that Pullman and her "civil liberties lawyer" believe effectively ban Christians, Jews and Muslims (though let's be real, she's really just talking about Christians here, and particularly fundamentalist Christians at that). The vast majority of them simply boil down to ensuring that lots of perspectives are shared in the classroom, treating students with respect and making them feel included and okay about who they are. It is hard to see how that violates anyone's religion. Surely it is possible for people like Joy Pullman to personally despise children of various identities, but to be polite and respectful to them in public, while they are working.
What is it, I have to wonder, that Joy Pullman would like these teachers to be able to do? Does she want them to misgender a child or call them by the wrong name in front of the class, humiliating them for no good reason? Does she want them to tell children of color that racism is all in their heads? How does she imagine this working out? How is the relationship between that child and their teacher going to be for the rest of the year? How is that kid going to do in school if they are afraid to go to class every day and face a teacher who treats them so poorly?
Should this apply to other ways teachers might like to express their religious beliefs as well? Should a Christian teacher be free to tell children who practice a different religion than they do, or no religion at all, that they are going to hell? Should a Jewish teacher be allowed to bar kids from bringing BLTs for lunch? Should Muslim teachers be allowed to require students to observe ... Sharia law?
What about teachers who just want to be cruel to children for the heck of it and not for any specific religious purpose?
Most people have jobs that require them to suck it up and be nice to people they don't like. Most people have jobs where they have to exhibit a certain amount of decorum they might not exhibit at home. It is unclear why this should not apply to the religious. At school, students are the customers. School is for them not for the teachers. The teachers work there and it is their job to provide a positive learning environment for all students, not just the students whose identities and choices are in line with their personal religious beliefs. If they can't manage to do that, perhaps this is not the job for them.
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